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South Kesteven District Council leader in spat over rural issues

Council leader Matthew Lee has clashed with former chairman Bob Sampson over concerns on the upcoming Bourne Cicle Festival.

During a somewhat heated exchange Coun Lee repeatedly told Coun Sampson to ‘sit down,’ leaving the red-faced Independent Loveden Heath councillor to reply: “I won’t be spoken to like that, whether you are leader or not.”

Coun Matthew Lee (7209593)
Coun Matthew Lee (7209593)

The row followed Coun Sampson, as chairman of the rural overview and scrutiny committee, telling last week’s cabinet meeting of South Kesteven District Council that farmers were “upset and concerned” about potential disruption from this summer’s Bourne Cicle festival.

He said of council initiatives:“It’s Stamford, Stamford, Stamford” and “Grantham, Grantham” before mentioning Bourne and the Deepings.

“I implore you leader not to lose sight of the rural service centres, the 96 villages and hamlets….The rural communities are fast being left out.”

Coun Lee (Con-Stamford St Mary’s) hit back: It’s disingenuous to say I and the cabinet do not represent the rural communities. When I became leader I specially created rural scrutiny so you could sit outside cabinet and champion the rural point of view.”

Rural villages, he said, had benefited from the Big Clean initiative and council investment with BT on broadband and he has talked on ‘rural isolation’.

The council leader said there is always more the council could do but he thought SKDC had “engaged more than ever to support rural communities”

Before they clashed, as Coun Sampson tried to speak again, Coun Lee added: “I would urge you to think of the good things we have done.”

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