OUTRAGED residents publicly accused of making ‘racist’ comments and being compared with Nazi Germany because of their immigration concerns by Labour city councillors have received an apology from one.
But they insist coun David Galliers’ private apology does not go far enough, and have called on the Labour party and council to conclude their investigations urgently and impose formal sanctions.
Two residents opposed to council-approved housing on Greenbelt in Keresley lodged formal complaints four weeks ago regarding the conduct of councillors Galliers and Rachel Lancaster.
The residents – Keresley Parish Council chair Sandra Camwell and father-of-two Allan Owens – fear the outcome is being deliberately delayed to avoid further political fall-out before elections on May 7.
As we have reported, they vehemently deny racism, after concerns were expressed about pressures from immigration on public services, housing and the Greenbelt.
Coun Galliers has now written to Mrs Camwell stating: “Following your recent communication with the city council, I am writing to apologise unreservedly for implying that your comments relating to immigrants and foreigners were similar to those made by fascist regimes in other countries.”
The letter added that he “now understood” Ms Camwell’s comments that “homes aren’t for Coventry people, they are for immigrants” and that the UK should “shut the doors” was a call for “immigration control pending a full evaluation of pressure on local services in connection with the council’s plans to build more houses on the Greenbelt.”
The Labour party is also pledging controls on immigration and its leaders and MPs say the party had previously been wrong to brand such immigration concerns as ‘racist’ or ‘bigoted’.
Coun Galliers had compared Mrs Camwell’s views with Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa in a letter to a Coventry newspaper.
Mrs Camwell has now written again to the council and Labour party pointing out she had requested a proportionate public apology from both councillors for “deeply offensive” remarks. Mr Owens is also calling for a formal resolution to his separate formal complaints.
Coun Lancaster, a council cabinet member, had taken to Twitter to publicly accuse ‘members of Keresley PC’ (parish council) of making ‘racist comments’.
She later clarified she had intended to refer only to Mrs Camwell.
Following the complaints, her offending tweet has been removed.
The council and Labour party say their investigations are ongoing.
* UPDATE, Tuesday, March 31: Coventry City Council’s monitoring officer has now concluded a formal investigation following formal complaints, stating no action is necesssary as the councillors were exerting their right to free speech.
A Labour party response is still awaited.