July 15, 2022 8.00 am

“I will not be bullied”: Councillor defiant after abuse over taxi policy

She promised not to be intimidated

By Local Democracy Reporter

A councillor has vowed that she will not be intimidated after receiving abuse over a controversial taxi policy.

The tactics have been condemned by the South Kesteven District Council leader, who says councillors should always feel able to speak their minds.

The abuse stemmed from a review into whether taxi drivers’ vehicles should be fewer than five years old when they were first registered.

Councillor Linda Wootten, the portfolio holder for Corporate Governance and Licensing, said she had been targeted by angry members of the industry online.

She gave a defiant statement in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, saying: “I take my role seriously and carry it out without fear or favour, and treat everyone with respect.

“During this process, I have been accused of lying and falsehoods, and certain taxi media have encouraged rubbishing my name online.

“I have remained professional at all times, and I can assure you I will not be intimidated, I will not be bullied and I am not a liar.”

Councillor Wootten said she would not be intimidated | Photo: SKDC

Council leader Councillor Kelham Cooke said: “I am incredible sorry about the way you have been treated outside of this council chamber – we all take this role to do better for our area, and I’m sorry that you have been dragged into this.”

He added that he had received death threats and stabbing threats in the past which “you never get used to.”

“We should never be intimidated and always have the confidence to speak our minds and debate.”

Councillor Mark Whittington said: “Unfortunately a lot of people in public life are being subjected to unacceptable behaviour. We don’t come into public life to have our reputations torn to shreds – we come to serve the public.”

The proposal came as the government looks to review its best practice for taxis, reducing the first registration age from seven to five years.

The cabinet resolved to review it in three months when a introduction date was known, and eventually adopt the change.

The Debate Not Hate report has recently reported that local councillors experience “increasing levels of abuse and intimidation” in public life.