Tory councillor’s racist comments censured

Here’s what a Conservative borough councillor Smith Benson said at a public meeting in Colne, Pendle, last year:

The problem with Colne is that there are too many takeaways. And too many Pakis, that’s why people don’t come to Colne.”

His comment to the Colne town centre regeneration forum – and which he repeated in the meeting when asked to clarify his remarks – led Lib Dem councillor Tony Greaves to complain that Cllr Benson had breached the local authority’s code of conduct: this has been upheld, and the matter has now been referred to Pendle Council’s standards committee.

The BBC reports:

The [council’s] report found he failed to comply with two aspects of the code of conduct: “You must treat others with respect” and “you must not conduct yourself in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute.”

Philip Mousdale, monitoring officer for the standards committee, the author of the report, wrote: “It was a sweeping statement not supported by any evidence and in my view it was disrespectful to the Pakistani community.

“I also consider that the use of the term Paki in the context of a meeting of a public forum made it even more disrespectful.”

The standards committee will meet on 20 January.

Cllr Benson sent a letter of apology to the chair of the meeting six weeks later; he has declined to comment before the standards committee meeting.

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