Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Suicide bomber: the next generation

"If I had cancer I'd strap a big bomb round myself and go in tomorrow." The words of South Cambs Cllr Deborah Roberts who holds the executive portfolio for housing on travellers living on their own land in Cottenham.

Stop this suicide bomber menaceThe remarks were made just days after the murder of traveller Fred Moss at a secret meeting of the council in 2004 where, as the councillor responsible for issues around the travellers, she demonstrated clearly what lies behind the consistent anti-traveller bias of the council. Bigotry.

Cllr Roberts, who has got into difficulties for "offensive remarks about travellers, bullying staff and sending disrespectful emails to officers." [1], will be giving a full apology to the council tomorrow.

A Standards Board "report into Coun Roberts' behaviour found she:

  • Sent disrespectful emails to the former director of planning, David Hussell, questioning his ability and threatening him.

  • Made disrespectful comments to two members of the council about a former director and his suitability for a senior management post.

  • Berated the council's head of community services, Simon Mackintosh, within earshot of colleagues.

  • Sent disrespectful, threatening emails to Tim Wetherfield, the head of policy and communications.
  • Made offensive remarks about travellers, while community development portfolio holder, thereby bringing her office into disrepute." [2]
However the Board decided to take no action despite ruling that she brought her office into disrepute. The councillor responded by saying that "I made a comment that in every other circumstance I wouldn't have dreamed of saying." Perhaps this explains why she was discovered destroying copies of the Code of Conduct in the members lounge?

However, Cllr. Susan Van De Ven was puzzled and said "I couldn't understand why the remark was not condemned immediately and openly... I am very worried that the Standards Board has deemed this conduct not worthy of action."

That's a good point isn't it? The full and frank apology Cllr Roberts intends to give tomorrow is three years too late and purely prompted by the ruling of the Standards Board. Can it really be taken as genuine contrition prompted by a new understanding that travellers are not scum to be wiped off the face of the planet?

I wonder how forgiving she would be if it had been a traveller, or Muslim, making similarly regrettable remarks? I wonder how fit she really is to hold an executive portfolio on the council, when that very portfolio involves dealing with those she chose to make such despicable remarks about?

Update: Call to fire councillor


a very public sociologist said...

What's her party affiliation?

Jim Jay said...

She's been an independent cllr for many years.

Certainly too right wing for the Tories. Probably too eccentric to remain in any organisation for long.

Jim Jay said...

And she's out of the cabinet - even though they had to change the rules to do it... which also shows how under democratic and centralised councils are becoming