Grantham councillor Ray Wootten was named as chairman of the county council in a week when a racism storm engulfed new UKIP members.
Coun Wootten, who last week stepped down as chairman of the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel, was named as chairman of Lincolnshire County Council on Friday.
His appointment coincided with a “racism” storm which began when Labour councillor Rob Parker proposed a motion which states: “We believe in a diverse and multi-racial heritage. We believe people from all walks of life and all backgrounds are a source of cultural and economic strength.”
The motion had all-party backing, apart from the 16 members of UKIP, who all refused to sign up.
UKIP Coun Chris Pain, leader of the opposition at the county council, told councillors: “I cannot support the document for one reason and one reason alone; it actually pushes forward the concept of multi-culturalism and I think this is one of the fundamental things that is wrong with our society.”
Coun Pain denied the position was in any way racist. He said: “UKIP’s stance is not racist. It is not on the basis of race. Our stance is purely on space and space alone.”
However, at the weekend the Sunday Mirror published comments taken from Coun Pain’s Facebook page, one of which read: “Have you noticed that if you rearrange the letters in ‘illegal immigrants’, and add just a few more letters, it spells, ‘Go home you free-loading, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, baby-making, non-English-speaking ********* and take those other hairy-faced, sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-********, raghead ******** with you.’”
However, this week Coun Pain said the post was the result of his Facebook account being hacked.
He added: “I am angry full stop at being classed as a racist which is unbelievable, diabolical and an insult to all of my friends of different creeds who came to my wedding.”
County councillor for Grantham South Charmaine Morgan criticised UKIP councillors for their stance.
She said: “We need to remain ever vigilant against prejeudice in all its guises.’ It is a sad day when our county council cannot be united in treating all people in our community equally with mutual respect.
“Whilst UKIP are grabbing headlines blaming migrants for our ills we become distracted from the real issues which include the escalating level of inequality in our country.”
The Journal asked new county council chairman Ray Wootten for his reaction to UKIP’s refusal to sign the motion. He said: “As the new chairman of the council I have to remain impartial, so it would be wrong to give my view on this in that role.
“On a personal basis, this county has benefitted throughout history with people arriving to seek a new way of life and contributing to our society. I hope that UKIP will reflect on their decision.”
Speaking after being elected as chairman of the county council, Coun Wootten said: “Lincolnshire is such a beautiful county. During the year I will endeavour to promote Lincolnshire and hope to visit as many of our lovely towns and villages as possible.”