Labour group leader says Nottinghamshire County Council reputation 'damaged' over 'racist councillor promotion'

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The Labour group leader at Nottinghamshire County Council has called on the council leader to apologise publicly over the decision to promote a councillor after it was discovered he made racist remarks on Facebook.

Coun Alan Rhodes said the episode had ‘caused reputational damage’.

Coun Steve Vickers, who represents Retford East, was made the chairman of the council’s health and wellbeing board – a move which comes with an additional £23,000 a year – despite being suspended from the national Conservative Party over the remarks, which came in the wake of the Nice terror attacks in 2016.

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In the remarks, Coun Vickers said Mayor of London Sadiq Khan ‘and his brethren’ were ‘part of the problem’, and that we should ‘hunt them all down’.

Coun Alan Rhodes says  Nottinghamshire County Council's reputation has been damagedCoun Alan Rhodes says  Nottinghamshire County Council's reputation has been damaged
Coun Alan Rhodes says Nottinghamshire County Council's reputation has been damaged

The comments, made a day after the terror attack, said: “The atrocities in Nice, I saw a post this afternoon about lighting candles and holding hands!

“B****x to that. Hunt them all down. Enough of all the political correctness and make Europe a safe place again.

“Sadiq Khan has asked questions about increased security in London. Has he now!

“He and his brethren are part of the problem.

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“The Muslim leaders in every mosque in the country should be denouncing terrorists attacks every day in their local papers, in their establishments and on TV and radio.

“It is them who are now culpable for these attacks by their silence. P****d off in Retford!!!!!”

When he was made chairman of the health and wellbeing board, Coun Vickers said he would be making a formal apology for the comments on the anniversary of the attacks, on July 14 this year.

However, no such apology has been made.

At the time of the promotion, council leader Coun Kay Cutts said the comments had been made ‘in the heat of the moment’ and he had apologised to her personally.

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But at the latest full council, Coun Rhodes said the incident had caused ‘reputational damage’, and called for the leader of the council to apologise publicly. No apology was made.

Coun Rhodes, who represents Worksop North, said: “The appointment of Coun Vickers caused widespread anger and offence, among partners in other local authorities and within the health community, and members of the public were outraged.

“Will the leader of the county council take this opportunity to apologise for the offence caused by her appointment of Coun Vickers, and for the subsequent damage to the reputation of the county council. “

Coun Cutts replied: “At the full council meeting on June 11, I explained the reasons why my group and I had chosen to accept the apology from Coun Vickers for any offence caused by comments he made in the social media post he made before he became a county councillor.

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“Steve (Vickers) has a number of French friends, and therefore he felt especially shocked at this appalling event (the Nice Terror attack).

“It was Coun Vickers’ own decision to step down from his position rather than become a distraction from the business of the council.

“There has been no decision by the (national) Conservative Party, and I can only assume the investigation is ongoing.

"I will inform the council if this situation changes, and at this date I have nothing further to add.”

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Coun Rhodes then said: “The fact Coun Vickers made his own decision to resign and it wasn’t Coun Cutts’ decision tells its own story, and leaves unanswered questions about her own leadership.”

She replied: “My unqualified support for Coun Vickers was based upon the way he acted as chairman of the health and wellbeing board, and he conducted his duties diligently.

“I can imagine that my being leader of the Conservative group will always cause some politicians somewhere to be offended at my leadership, because of my politics.”