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Grantham councillor called on again to apologise for 'unintentionally misleading' SKDC - but refuses

By Daniel Jaines, Local Democracy Reporter

A senior Grantham councillor has refused to apologise after he was accused of “unintentionally misleading” the district council and called on to step down as its police representative.

Councillor Phil Dilks made the claim about Coun Ray Wootten, in relation to a previous motion on police funding.

He said it was declined after Coun Wootten, who sits on the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel, told members there would be no further staff cuts and that the Lincolnshire police and crime commissioner Marc Jones was to receive £10 million in funding.

Ray Wootten at the full council meeting (second from right). (14327611)
Ray Wootten at the full council meeting (second from right). (14327611)

It later transpired that Mr Jones had in fact received just £1.8 million, and that there will still be 50 police officers lost by the end of this year.

Coun Dilks said his previous motion, in which he called for the authority to push for better funding for police after raising “serious concerns” about rising crime in his area, was turned down on “false information” and that the authority had been “seriously mislead”, though he acknowledged it was “unintentionally”.

A previous meeting also called on Coun Wootten to apologise, but Coun Dilks said the former had been “bobbing in and out of the meeting” resulting in him not being there for the request.

Ray Wootten vs Phil Dilks (14327658)
Ray Wootten vs Phil Dilks (14327658)

“We must be able to have confidence that announcements made by those representing us on such important bodies are accurate, fair and tell the whole truth,” he said.

Coun Wootten has also since clarified that the £10 million in extra funding has been achieved through both tax rises, savings and extra funding by Mr Jones in the years since he was elected in 2016.

Coun Dilks’ motion also called for Coun Wootten to be replaced as the council’s representative on the police and crime panel, of which he is vice chairman.

In the meeting, Coun Wootten said: “The information I gave to full council on May 23 was, as always, given in good faith, based on the information I was given.

“I never have and never will deliberately mislead this council, or the residents we serve.”

He called the motion a “character assassination”, a “slur” and an “unwarranted attack”.

He called on Coun Dilks himself to apologise and other councillors to show respect.

He also denied saying there would be no further staff cuts, referring instead to funding cuts.

In response to other points on the motion, Coun Wootten praised the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise of 20,000 extra police officers and £1.1 billion funding.

Several other councillors also called on Coun Wootten to apologise, though others criticised it, with Coun Philip Knowles accusing the motion of “missing the point” over the three meetings it had appeared in and becoming the “Dilks-Wootten show”.

Coun Charmaine Morgan said “there’s no shame in apologising,” admitting she herself has had to previously.

An amendment offered by Coun Morgan, on the proviso of him apologising was withdrawn when he continued to refuse to do so.

However, a further amendment which will see the council leader, Matthew Lee, write to Lincolnshire’s MPs to push for fairer funding, and invite Mr Jones to a meeting to discuss crime in the district was passed.


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