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SKDC to fight 'modern slavery'

SKDC has pledged to “do everything within its power” to eradicate Modern Slavery.

The promise follows Labour Group Leader Phil Dilks calling on the council to adopt a ten-point plan used by other councils to tackle the problem.

He told last week’s meeting of the full council that anyone believing slavery ended with William Wilberforce was “living in another world”

The government, he continued, estimates there are 13,000 such slaves in Britain.

“Councils have a key role to play. We use our purchasing power to show we are not buying into slavery. We show commitment to fight this evil. It’s going on. It’s endemic.”

Grantham Labour councillor Tracey Foreman seconded his motion noting a Lincolnshire case where nine family members were jailed. She called on the public to look at car washers, nail bars and farms adding subcontracted services were also prone.

Saying Coun Dilk’s motion provided clarity on what to do, she added: “We need to do everything in our power.”

Coun Ray Wootten recalled a case in Bedfordshire where 250 police raided a site and found men starving, with scurvy, with broken ribs and who had been beaten, punched and kicked and described it as “living on a concentration camp.”

The former policeman advised that the signs of modern slavery include people who avoid eye contact or are underfed and tired.

Council leader Matthew Lee said: “I feel its our duty. The council can lead. For me the evil is in our community. We should do everything we can to ensure it’s exterminated from our streets.

“We can’t pay lip-service. It’s all too easy to have a vote.”

Cabinet member for finance, Coun Adam Stokes, amended Coun Dilk’s motion replacing the ten-point plan.

Instead, SKDC would “do everything within its power to eradicate” Modern Slavery and recognise its causes and the way projects and services are delivered.

SKDC resolved to work with the police, HMRC and others and build on its existing statement on Modern Slavery.

A council overview and scrutiny committee would review the council’s existing commitments and look at the issue “seriously.”

Coun Dilks said he was sorry the amendment was moved, but he accepted this as he did not want the issue to be seen as party political.

He added: “I will not allow this to be kicked into long grass.

“I hope you won’t either.”

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