Stroud District Council leaders of the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat groups have condemned a racist tweet by a sitting Conservative councillor. Doina Cornell, Martin Whiteside and Ken Tucker have submitted a formal letter of complaint to the Council’s monitoring officer and have asked Conservative leader Stephen Davies to join them in publically condemning the racist use of social media by councillors.

The letter states:

We are submitting a formal complaint regarding a breach of Stroud District Council’s Member Code of Conduct by Cllr Debbie Young.

The complaint relates to the following re-tweet by Cllr Young, which has now been deleted, but not before it was seen by local residents, who contacted us immediately with their concerns.

Tweet shared by a sitting Conservative Councillor, Debbie Young (Chalford)
Tweet shared by a sitting Conservative Councillor, Debbie Young (Chalford)

An elected representative using social media in this way is simply unacceptable. Stroud District has a long tradition of welcoming refugees from many countries, and condemning hatred and discrimination of all kinds. The tweet spreads anti-refugee prejudice and as a result could foment discrimination and hatred. As Stroud district residents we are fortunate to live in relative safety, in contrast to those who due to circumstances beyond their control have had to flee their homeland and endure hardships and risks to reach safety. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not used as the butt of a deeply hurtful and inaccurate tweet.

On 8 June 2020 all four political group leaders of SDC issued a public statement which stated:

“Stroud District Council condemns all forms of racism across the world following the appalling death of George Floyd.

In supporting Black Lives Matter, we recognise the historic and institutional injustice experienced by BAME people across the world, including in our own communities, and reaffirm our commitment to promoting equality and tackling discrimination.”

Local residents expect the council to live up to this statement. As the councillor in question has used social media previously to spread racist and discriminatory messages, it is up to us to demonstrate that our statement was more than just words, and that we will have zero tolerance for any public endorsement of discrimination by elected representatives using social media.

The Stroud District Council member code of conduct states that:

All members of the Council shall aspire to uphold and promote the following principles:

Respect for others – members should promote equality by not discriminating unlawfully against any person, and by treating people with respect, regardless of their race, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. They should respect the impartiality and integrity of the authority’s statutory officers and its other employees.

Members must not conduct themselves in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing their office or authority into disrepute.

The code of conduct has clearly been breached on this occasion.

We look forward to your urgent investigation into this matter so we can respond to local residents that their district council is standing up for what is right.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Doina Cornell, Leader, Stroud District Labour & Cooperative Group

Cllr Martin Whiteside, Leader, Stroud District Green Group

Cllr Ken Tucker, Leader, Stroud District Liberal Democrat Group

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