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Push for Grantham Town council fails

A fresh bid for Grantham to have its own town council was again thwarted by ruling Conservatives.

Independent Ashley Baxter unsuccessfully made the move at last week's AGM of South Kesteven District Council.

The Deepings councillor told the meeting: "Grantham needs a town council. It's one of the few towns in Lincolnshire that does not have one. It leaves them without a body to speak for them.

"The creation of a Grantham town council will create an active and appropriate forum to consider Grantham events."

Parish and town councils, he claimed, give the Deepings a coherent voice, particularly with planning applications.

Coun Baxter added: "It's about taking back control. Getting back your town council is the first step to freedom."

However, Grantham town mayor, Mike Cook (SK Ind- Grantham St Vincent's) said the issue has been raised several times in recent decades and a public meeting four to five years ago on the subject attracted just 14 people.

He asked: "Do we need a layer of bureaucracy and expense? When we talk about this and a possible rise on council tax people lose interest."

Former Grantham mayor Ian Selby (Unaligned- Grantham Harrowby) said he did not believe Grantham had an appetite for such a body, saying just 13 turned up when he organised a meeting.

Coun Selby suggested SKDC creates a Grantham committee to look at solely Grantham issues.

He added: "I don't think public want another tier of government."

Tracey Foreman (Lab- Grantham Earlesfield) said: "There's a difference between bureaucracy and democracy. It was self evident a town of 41,000 needed a voice.What we are saying is we should ask the residents of Grantham."

Council leader Matthew Lee then commented: "If the people of Grantham want a town council, they only have to sign a petition."

However, Ray Wootten (Con- Grantham St Wulfram's) moved an amendment, saying a town council should only be formed if Grantham came under a unitary authority, replacing Lincolnshire County Council and SKDC.

After outlining how previous attempts to form such a council came to nothing, Coun Wootten then noted the costs of running Stamford Town Council. He said it sets an annual precept of £503,000 but £276,000 of this goes on administration and town hall costs alone.

However, if 7.5 per cent of Grantham's voting population sought a town council and there was a vote for it, Coun Wootten said he would respect the wishes of the people.

Labour's Phil Dilks called Mr Wootten's amendment "silly" saying it was a "wrecking attempt."

He and others noted that the chances of a unitary council operating in South Kesteven were low.

The Deepings Labour councillor said his own area had vibrant town and parish councils, adding: "It's about democracy."

Deepings Independent councillor Judy Stevens said having no town council meant no focus for town campaigns, like the hospital. She blamed poor turnouts for previous meetings on the issue on poor promotion from SKDC.

Mr Selby then suggested that a public vote be held on the day of the council elections next May.

Despite support from independents and Labour, the overwhelming number of Conservatives meant the substantive motion failed but Mr Wootten's amendment succeeded.


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