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Former Mayor of Grantham hits back at 'chumocracy' jibe

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A former Grantham Charter Trustee has hit back at comments from a fellow councillor who called the town’s trustees an ‘expensive Tory chumocracy’.

Councillor Lee Steptoe, a Labour councillor on South Kesteven District Council, who represents Earlesfield, said the 15 trustees were there to select a mayor and deputy who carry out only ceremonial duties and cost the taxpayer £50,000 a year. He pointed out that Grantham is the only town in South Kesteven that does not have a town council.

But Conservative district councillor and former trustee Linda Wootten hit back by saying: “I do hope he realised that Bourne, Stamford and the Deepings still have a civic mayor and each town council has a highly paid clerk.”

Councillor Linda Wootten. (54250655)
Councillor Linda Wootten. (54250655)

Coun Wootten added: “He rightly points out that there are 15 councillors from the seven old borough council wards who are the Charter Trustees, so not every household in Grantham pays towards the precept of the office of mayor and a town council wouldn’t cover all the services that the district council does.

“What a shame Coun Steptoe hasn’t taken his role as a Charter Trustee seriously as it’s not only about ‘Tory Chumocracy’ because the Mayor’s Parlour is meant to be apolitical and he, along with other trustees should be scrutinising and controlling the budget.

“There was protocol and procedure back in the day but things have fallen by the wayside.”

Lee Steptoe (46585897)
Lee Steptoe (46585897)

Coun Steptoe had described the Charter Trustees as “mired in secrecy and unaccountability and from what I’ve seen, makes things up as it goes along”.

Coun Wootten, a former Mayor of Grantham, said the precept for the mayor’s office has reduced drastically since 2007 from a figure of £70,000 to the £45,000 of today. She said the majority of the budget goes on staff costs, approximately £30,000, which in itself is something that the trustees should have been addressing.

She said: “There should be no secrecy in the Mayor’s Parlour and there should be accountability because the trustees are responsible for the budget. Attend any parish council and the clerk, chairperson and councillors rigorously scrutinise and account for every penny that is

“The precept for Stamford Town Council was £537,949 and they have commitments, for instance looking after parks but, it is quite clear we the people of Grantham will end up paying more in taxes if we go down that route.

“All the Charter Trustees are district councillors and they have a commitment to serve their community along with their role as a trustee.”

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