A LABOUR cabinet member has been forced to apologise after he threatened to ‘thump’ a fellow councillor at a heated full council meeting yesterday (Tuesday).
Coun Kevin Maton, cabinet member for education and skills, made the threat following a series of questions from independent councillor Glenn Williams about future grammar school provision in Coventry.
During the question time portion of the meeting, Coun Williams asked: “The cabinet member has publicly ruled out grammar schools coming back to Coventry, he much prefers left wing social engineering.
“I would like to ask the cabinet member why he has chosen not to consult with our residents, with teachers and with parents before making that decision.”
Independent councillor for Bablake, Glenn Williams
The question caused Coun Maton’s temper to flare, angrily responding: “We’re in cold shower time before I get up and thump him I think.”
Coun Maton has publicly voiced his opposition to Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals to lift the ban on grammar schools, arguing they are a ‘damaging throwback from the past’.
But Coun Williams’ questioning touched a nerve.
He added: “The reality is that statement was made after consulting with all of our secondary head teachers.
“I find it really annoying that you assume I don’t go out and speak to head teachers, because that’s exactly what I did before that statement was made.”
The threat was made in front of all city councillors and a packed public gallery, which included students from Coventry University keen to find out about local government during Local Democracy Week.
Later in the meeting, Coun Maton apologised for his threat – which Coun Williams accepted.
Commenting on the threat, Coun Williams told the Observer: “I was shocked to be threatened in the council chamber by another councillor, merely for asking questions, which is what we’re supposed to be doing as councillors surely?
“Nevertheless, Coun Maton did withdraw his comments and publicly apologised to my face, which I have accepted and will not be taking the matter further.
“It was a real shame, however, that as part of Local Democracy Week we had sixth-form students in the public gallery who not only had to witness that threat, but also the general childishness of that particular meeting.
“What sort of example does it set for our young people when democratically elected members asking questions and challenging policies are threatened with violence?
“My mother was also in the public gallery, she wasn’t impressed with their behaviour either.”