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A councillor has urged a shop to carry on selling pictures of golliwogs – because “they’ve got happy, smiling little faces”.

Shoppers have complained to bosses at Bert’s Homestore in Brighton after place mats featuring golliwogs were found on sale.

One anti-racism campaigner said the controversial images were a “sick throwback” and should be banned.

But Conservative city councillor Dawn Barnett argued golliwogs were not racist and branded the complaints against the store “political correctness gone too far”.

She said: “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

"In fact I’ve got a golliwog magnet sitting on my boiler.”

When asked why the shop should continue to sell the place- mats, she said: “They’re nostalgic, not racist. When I was young I remember saving up for a badge showing a golliwog playing a banjo.”

“My children had golliwogs and they preferred them to teddy bears. It’s because they’ve got happy, smiling little faces.”

In 2007, Greater Manchester Police seized two golliwogs from a shop after a complaint that the dolls were offensive.

And in 2011, two Conservative candidates resigned following complaints from fellow party members that they had used images of golliwogs as part of a protest against political correctness.

Abigail Sinclair, who campaigns for community cohesion in Brighton and Hove, said pictures of golliwogs had “no place” in the city.

She said: “I was called a golliwog as a kid so it’s very offensive to me. It’s not something that belongs in the present day. I hope we have moved on from that.

“For people like me, it resurfaces old wounds. It’s got all kinds of negative connotations.”

And Bert’s Homestore manager Andrew Earley promised his shop would not be selling the golliwog place mats in future.

He said: “The place mats came from a company that makes a number of products for us. I don’t have a strong opinion on it.

“But if one of our products gives offence, we are always happy to remove it from sale.”