A WELL-KNOWN councillor who called at least one member of the public a ‘bigot’ in a council committee has said he will apologise “when hell freezes over.”
Cllr Steve Walmsley made his comments at a heated Stockton Borough Council planning committee in June when permission was granted to create two children’s homes in Hartburn and Stillington.
Eight formal complaints about Cllr Steve Walmsley, Thornaby Independent’s conduct at the planning committee
However Stockton Borough Council has decided not to hold a formal investigation although the councillor has been in a dialogue with the authority’s legal expert.
There were other, less serious complaints against other councillors at the meeting at Stockton’s Baptist Tabernacle, and the council’s legal department has reminded all members of the planning committee reminded that high standards need to be maintained.
Complaints against Cllr Walmsley sent to the council included that he was “clearly prejudiced” before making his decision and had fallen short of the councillors’ code of conduct.
On being told there would be no formal investigation one Hartburn complainant once again wrote a letter to the council saying: “How you can personally justify the verbal attack from Cllr Walmsley on members of the public as falling into acceptable boundaries of the councillor’s code of conduct is nothing short of disgraceful.”
Cllr Walmsley said that in fact he only called one member of the public a bigot. He claimed the man had been shouting over him.
He said: “I will apologise when hell freezes over. I think the word ‘bigot’ was accurate. The definition of a bigot is thinking you’re right and no opinion from anyone else matters. I stand by it.”
So far permission to use three houses to be used as children’s homes, run by profit-making Scottish company Spark of Genius, including one in Thorpe Thewles, has been granted by the planning authority. They will be used to accommodate 15 children. The council and Spark of Genius are looking for a fourth and final home for the children.
It’s hoped the council will save up to £600,000 a year by bringing looked-after children currently sent elsewhere back to the borough. The scheme’s capital cost is expected to cost the tax-payer £2.75m, up from the original estimate of £2.3m. That overspend has led to criticism from the Taxpayers’ Alliance.