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South Kesteven District Councillors clash over spelling mistakes in business document consultation

A council leader has said he doesn’t mind people making fun of spelling or grammatical mistakes in council documents as long as they are being discussed.

A row broke out during South Kesteven District Council’s Finance and Economic Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday (May 8) over the mistakes.

Councillors were discussing the authority’s new Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan 2024-2028, which lays out its aspirations for business growth over the coming years.

The document is out for consultation.
The document is out for consultation.

The document, years in the making, is out for consultation until June 8.

However, members quickly noticed mistakes in the document, including spelling issues and repetitive sentences.

The substance of the document itself was welcomed by leaders, with council leader Coun Ashley Baxter (Ind) calling on members to encourage residents, businesses, and loved ones to participate in the consultation.

An example of the types of mistakes that were spotted is in the very first paragraph of the Bourne entry.
An example of the types of mistakes that were spotted is in the very first paragraph of the Bourne entry.

He raised concerns about devolution's impact on funding but insisted the document would help the district move forward.

“We do need to be aware of what's happening around the place but in terms of generating jobs, income, wealth, and happiness in South Kesteven. This is a way towards that Nirvana,” he added.

Opposition leader Coun Graham Jeal (Con) celebrated the document's publication after a two-year wait. However, he described it as a “baseline”.

“I would hope to see a lot more smart detail in how we move from aspiration to delivery,” he said. He urged more consideration of devolution and welcomed a “robust” consultation.

Coun Virginia Moran (Ind) praised the document for its appearance but said she had found multiple errors.

“It needs proofreading, and an amended copy should be put out as soon as possible,” she said.

Coun Ben Green (Con) suggested it might be “prudent” to pause the consultation.

“Anyone diligently going out and responding to it this afternoon… might be picking up on some of these issues, and we could frankly save them time and avoid duplication of effort,” he said.

He suggested that the council had “jumped the gun” by not examining the document first.

However, Coun Baxter said councillors had opportunities to voice concerns at previous workshops and that he did not want the document to get kicked down the road further.

He took responsibility for the document. He added that he had changed the order of the document since taking over, focusing on certain sections and acknowledged that it might have been due to having concentrated more on the first part than the second.

He apologised for the typos, but added: “If the Journal or the Mercury pick up on this meeting and the issue becomes around is this consultation fit to go out to the public because it’s got typographical errors and spelling mistakes in it, then I think that publicity will generate more response.

“If more people look at the document in order to laugh at the typo on page 16 but they end up responding by saying ‘well actually the most important part of the economy is the ecclesiastical history of Great Ponton’ - that’s the kind of feedback we want.”

Councillors were, however, told that errors would be corrected as soon as possible.

Residents and businesses can fill in the consultation here.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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