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Hangleton councillor brought council into disrepute says council hearing
A councillor has been found guilty of bringing the council into disrepute over her comments defending the use of golliwogs.
Brighton and Hove city councillor Dawn Barnett was cleared of two more charges by a panel of three fellow councillors at a closed hearing held yesterday.
The Conservative councillor, who will now undergo diversity training, said after the meeting that she did not feel the issue should have progressed so far and was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
The panel also recommended that all councillors should undergo diversity training in the future.
In August the 72-year-old Hangleton and Knoll councillor told The Argus said she thought golliwogs were “nostalgic, not racist” and complaints against Bert’s Homestore selling golliwog placemats were “political correctness gone too far”.
The comments provoked four “separate but similar” complaints from three people and the council’s Black and Minority Ethnic Workers’ Forum.
One complainant asked for an apology from Coun Barnett while another said they wished to see her expelled from the council.
The hearing was originally scheduled for November 28 but was dramatically postponed after Coun Barnett fell down a flight of stairs en route to the meeting and was carried to hospital wearing a neck brace and on a spinal board.
Yesterday’s hearing, lasting more than five-and-a-half hours, involved four councillors including Coun Barnett herself and was also attended by a number of senior council staff including a monitoring officer, head of complaints and head of democratic services.
A council report on the proceedings will not be made available to the public until early next week.
Coun Barnett, who was cleared of failing to treat others with respect and breaching the Equalities Act, said: “They threw out the two most serious charges but said I was guilty of breaching the code of conduct.
“I am pleased they have let me off on the other two serious charges but very disappointed that they have judged I broke the code of conduct.
“I don’t think it should have got this far, it was a waste of taxpayers’ money and officers’ time.
“I apologised to anyone who was upset by my comments and that should have been the end of it.
“I understand the reasons why they had it behind closed doors but there were a lot of upset people outside the meeting that were angry it wasn’t held in public.”
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman said it highlighted the “need for training and awareness raising among all councillors on equalities issues” which would in future be part of member development.
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