Councillor Keith Walker has served on Nottinghamshire County Council for more than 20 years and represents the Balderton division. He served as Chairman of the Council in the 2011-12 civic year. He has also been a Parish Councillor at Farndon for more than three decades and serves on Balderton Parish Council, where he was elected Chairman in May 2012.
Keith previously served on Newark & Sherwood District Council representing Farndon for more than 30 years, and he was also Chairman of Balderton & Fernwood Safer Neighbourhood Group. He is a Governor of the Grove School, New Balderton until it becomes an Academy in September 2012.
Keith was born in Elston and left school at 15 years of age to become a motor mechanic, having his own garage for 15 years before going to work at Hoval Boilers Limited in Newark.
As a young lad he was eager to join in community life, played football in a local team and enjoyed go-karting. He was a member of the Two Rivers Rally Club with his eldest brother, Noel.
Keith is married to Inga, a retired nurse. They have lived in Farndon for more than 40 years and have a son Nigel, and a daughter Tracey, who are both married with two children. Nigel served in the Army with the Household Cavalry for twenty-two and a half years and has just retired from this post, while Tracey works for Nottinghamshire County Council.
Keith is very much a family man and enjoys spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren. In his spare time he enjoys gardening, DIY, travel, theatre and socialising with local people.
Keith is available to meet constituents at any mutually convenient time or place. His contact details are displayed on the left of this page.
Keith's latest Councillors' Divisional Fund awards...
Each Nottinghamshire County Councillor now has an annual fund of £10,000 to support worthy initiatives in the division they represent. The Councillors' Divisional Fund aims to make use of each councillor's 'grass roots' knowledge to identify projects, events, people and clubs that work hard to benefit and promote their local area, but often lack access to resources. Even a small amount of funding can sometimes make a huge difference.
If you know of a deserving initiative in the Balderton division that might be eligible to receive a CDF grant, please contact me. You can click the following link to read the eligibility guidance criteria.
Follow this link to the Councillors' Divisional Fund web page to see some of the latest projects I have been able to support.
Keith's latest news...
Council tax frozen for the fourth consecutive year
At the Nottinghamshire County Council budget meeting on 28th February 2013, I joined my Conservative colleagues in voting to freeze county council tax for a fourth consecutive year.
In the 2013/14 financial year, Nottinghamshire County Council will be investing: -
an extra £13.3 million in services to children and young people;
an extra £17.9 million in adult social care;
an extra £3 million on the county’s highways;
an extra £500,000 for a Youth Employment Strategy; and
an extra £700,000 for our ‘Olympic Legacy’ sports development fund.
This followed our ‘Big Budget Conversation’ consultation process, in which 65% of Nottinghamshire respondents supported a council tax freeze, with only 21% against. Further information on the results of the Big Budget Conversation can be found in Appendix A to the budget report.
Nottinghamshire County Council is now spending over £40 million more on services to vulnerable adults than it was four years ago, and over £35 million more on services to vulnerable children.
Love food, hate waste
A quick word for Nottinghamshire County Council's 'Love Food Hate Waste' campaign. We can all save money and help the environment by reducing the amount of food we throw away every week. Wasting foodcosts the average couple £480 a year, which increases to £680 a year for the average family with children.
Not only that, but wasting food has a huge environmental impact – if we all stopped wasting food that could have been eaten, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking 1 in every 5 cars off the road!
If you have a moment, please take a look at the Love Food Hate Waste page on our website.
Secondary school admissions
The application process for children transferring from primary schools to secondary schools across the county in September 2013 is under way. Letters from Nottinghamshire County Council setting out the procedure for applying, key dates for noting and their child’s unique ID number are in the process of being sent out to parents and carers across Nottinghamshire.
Parents and carers can now start applying for a secondary school place and the Council's committee chairman for children and young people’s services, Councillor Philip Owen, is urging as many as possible to apply online at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/admissions.
The closing date for applications is Wednesday, 31st October 2012. For more information about the application process, schools, the number of places available or how places are allocated, please visit the website at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/admissions or call 01623 433499.
Grove School to become an Academy
The Grove School at Balderton is due to become an Academy in November under the direction of Lincoln College . I welcome this as a move in the right direction and I am excited for the future of young people in the town and surrounding area.
As reported in the Advertiser newspaper, there is some disappointment that we look set to lose the locally recognised 'Grove, Balderton' name in favour of a proposed new title, The Newark Academy, but I'm still clear that what matters most is securing the highest possible standard of education for our young people. I wish the new Academy every success and shall continue to take a keen interest in its progress.
Council adopts a committee system
The Council Chamber at County Hall, where most of the meetings under the new committee system will be held
With approval at the Council’s Annual General Meeting on 17th May 2012, Nottinghamshire County Council exercised its new power under the Localism Act 2011 to adopt a committee system of decision-making. This replaces the Leader and Cabinet model adopted under the Local Government Act 2000.
The rationale for a committee system is that it is the most democratic and transparent form of governance. It ensures all 67 democratically elected Councillors are able to fully participate in decision-making and shaping the policy of the Council. It ensures greater transparency in that all reports are publicly available prior to any decision being made, and most decision-making meetings are held in public.
Reports were taken to the Full Council meetings in January and March, with final approval being given, as stated above, in May.
Council tax frozen again in 2012/13
At the Nottinghamshire County Council budget meeting on 23rd February it was agreed to freeze county council tax for a third consecutive year. With public finances under strain across the country, the council has saved £87 million so far, £44 million of which has been reinvested directly into frontline services. In the coming financial year we will spend: -
- £2.8 million more safeguarding children;
- £5.2 million more on care for older people;
- £2.7 million more on adults with mental health & learning disabilities;
- £1.4 million more on adults with physical disabilities; and
- £1 million more to support young carers.
We are also committed to invest £289 million in capital over three years on:-
- Improving school buildings;
- Modernising day centres;
- New youth clubs;
- Improving libraries;
- Improved broadband services;
- Improved roads and pathways;
- New and improved bus stations.
Councillor Reg Adair is the council's Cabinet Member for Finance & Property. In his speech presenting the budget, he outlined the results of the council's budget consultation. In response to public feedback, we are: -
- providing additional library opening hours at 15 locations across the county;
- holding Meals at Home charges at £3.95 for 2012/13; and
- not increasing charges for Blue Badge holders in 2012/13, unlike many other local authorities.
Success! The A453 gets the green light!
I am absolutely delighted by the Chancellor’s announcement that the Government is fast-tracking the dualling of the A453. This is the best Christmas gift that businesses and residents in Nottinghamshire could have, bringing a £540m boost to the East Midlands economy.
In May this year, Nottinghamshire County Council pledged £20m towards the scheme if it was bought forward. Since that pledge was made, the campaign to widen the road has garnered support from the local business community and other local councils, including a pledge of £500,000 towards the scheme from Rushcliffe Borough Council in October.
The A453 has been on the Council’s wishlist since the 1970s. At last it is going to happen and I am thrilled for local businesses and commuters alike. I want to particularly thank East Midlands Airport, Boots, RH Freight, Hardstaffs, the Nottingham Post newspaper and partner authorities for their support in this campaign.
In the five years up to October 2010, there were 185 accidents involving personal injury on just the Nottinghamshire part of the A453. The Nottinghamshire section of the road is the second most congested part of the national road network after a short section of the M25. This congestion has been costing larger businesses as much as £100,000 a year because of increased fuel usage, difficulty reaching customers, abandoned journeys and accident costs.
Finally, we can look forward to smoother and safer journeys on this vital road link through Nottinghamshire from the M1 and I am immensely pleased that the Government has listened to our determined campaign.
Nottinghamshire County Council remembers the fallen
On Friday 11th November 2011 it was my honour as Chairman to represent Nottinghamshire County Council and lay a wreath at a Ceremony of Remembrance outside County Hall, marking the sacrifice made by our troops for their country in conflicts over the years.
Three weeks earlier I had joined the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire to buy the first poppies in the county and launch The Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, which is celebrating its 90th year. As my chosen Chairman's Charity, The Royal British Legion is an organisation close to my heart and the welfare they provide to serving and ex-Service staff and their families is a vital lifeline for thousands of people.
Nottinghamshire County Council has supported dozens of community organisations and groups across the county during the last year to help them mark Armistice Day. Funding has come from two sources – the Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) and the Councillors’ Divisional Fund (CDF) fund. The LIS in particular has supported the restoration and repair of 18 war memorials across the county.
Official Opening of the new Newark Bus Station
I was delighted to perform the official opening of Newark's brand new bus station on Friday 11th November, before it opened for business the following day.
Part of the £50m Asda supermarket development on the town’s Potterdyke car park, the new state-of-the-art bus station is fully enclosed and boasts digital information screens, seating, CCTV for added security, toilets, baby changing area, vending machines and a staffed information point.
The new building is jointly owned by Nottinghamshire County Council – which will operate the bus station – and Newark and Sherwood District Council. Both worked alongside Asda on its development.
It has been estimated that there will be around 2,000 bus arrivals and departures a week – with around 25,000 passenger arrivals and departures over the same period.
The new bus station provides a welcoming first impression for anyone arriving in Newark by bus and I am confident that anyone using the new bus station will be impressed by the modern, first-rate facilities it offers. As joint owner of the facility, we are delighted to see it open and become available to residents of Newark and Sherwood. It is a significant part of the regeneration of this part of Newark town centre which will help to maximise the area’s economic potential.
The new Newark bus station is part of the County Council’s commitment to improving the quality of bus waiting facilities throughout the county. A new bus station opened in Retford in 2007, the bus station in Sutton in Ashfield was substantially improved in 2009 and work on a new £9m bus station in Mansfield is underway. Options to improve the bus facilities in Worksop are also being examined.
Nottinghamshire County Council Civic Service - my tribute to the Wootton Bassett Royal British Legion
On 26th June 2011, in my capacity as Chairman I attended the annual Nottinghamshire County Council Civic Service at Southwell Minster. My invited guests on the day included the President of the Wootton Bassett Royal British Legion, Mr Maurice Baker and his wife, Mary.
Council Chairman Councillor Walker with Mr Maurice Baker, President of Wootton Bassett Royal British Legion
During the service, in my Chairman's address I described my experience of having visited Wootton Bassett and participated, by chance, in one of the impromptu repatriation ceremonies for a fallen soldier returning from Afghanistan. I told the congregation that what I witnessed that day would stay with me always. There was no one telling us where to stand and what to do, no choir of children and no Bishop in full regalia, but standing on the edge of the path in complete silence, the people of Wootton Bassett said farewell to a hero. I recall in a selfish moment a huge feeling of relief that only a few months earlier my son had made a safe return home after his tour of Afghanistan. I had seen the sorrow and the fear of his wife, children and mother as he set out and I shall never forget when I gave him a handshake - would that be the last time I saw him alive?
Fortunately, I was able to see the happiness on his safe return, the joy and excitement on his children's faces. My experience could scarcely have contrasted more with the sorrow of the family of this soldier who had been denied a happy homecoming. There in front of us was the hearse with a coffin draped with a union flag. I did not know the soldier's name or regiment but I did know his age - just 19.
That afternoon I made a promise to myself to ask representatives of the Wootton Bassett Royal British Legion to my Civic Service and I am delighted that the President and his wife were able to accept. Many of you will have watched on television the tributes paid to our fallen by the people of Wootton Bassett, soon to be Royal Wootton Bassett and it was my opportunity on behalf of the people of Nottinghamshire and the rest of the country, certainly the families of the lost loved ones, to say a simple but heartfelt thank you.
For this and other good reasons I have selected The Royal British Legion as my Chairman's Charity for 2011-12 and I hope by next May we can make a healthy donation to this organisation. If you would like to make your own donation via the Chairman's Charity, please make cheques payable to Nottinghamshire County Council Chairman's Charity and send to Civic Office, Nottinghamshire County Council, County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham NG2 7QP. Thank you.
School buildings investment
I am delighted to report that the Grove Comprehensive School in Balderton division is one of the schools set to benefit from the first phase of Nottinghamshire County Council's new £100 million programme to refurbish and improve school buildings.
At the Annual General Meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council on 19th May, the Cabinet Member for Children & Young People's Services, Councillor Philip Owen set out the full Schools Capital Refurbishment Programme List, covering three years up to 2014.
In line with the "Three R's" set out by the Government for school building works (Refresh, Refurbish, Re-use), Nottinghamshire County Council has set the criteria to prioritise the schools most in need of improvements for the first year. The condition of roofs, external walls and windows, electrical arrangements and mechanical issues such as boilers have been considered.
More in-depth surveys of the schools in the first year list will take place from June and works on a small number of schools will begin during the summer holidays. The Council started a review of school buildings across the county following the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.
The County Council will be funding around £30m of the programme with the remaining money coming from the authority’s Government grant for school maintenance.