A councillor who sparked fury over his ‘traveller germs’ comments may face an investigation by the Equalities watchdog after a complaint from a Romany Gypsy grandmother.
Milton Parish Councillor David Burch told villagers a play area would need to be thoroughly cleaned after traveller children used it because they are "usually unvaccinated". Councillor Burch’s comments came in an email sent to local residents after “a single Traveller family” stopped at a local park, according to local news reports. The email advised that the play area be taped off until cleaning had taken place and families were warned to keep their children away.
Speaking to the Travellers’ Times, the Romany Gypsy grandmother said that she had decided to formally complain after “taking advice” and now believed that the councillor’s statement had broken equalities laws.
“As well as breaking the law, Cllr Burch’s remarks have distressed and angered many in my community, and shocked other people too from all communities,” she said.
“Councillors are in a position of responsibility and should set an example for others to follow and not stir up racial hatred. No doubt some of those recipients of the email who are parents will now warn their children not to play with Gypsy and Traveller children at school because they are diseased,” she added.
Traveller rights campaigner, Josie O’Driscoll, said that Councillor Burch should be sacked.
The Traveller mother, who co-founded the Gypsy and Traveller lead “Report Racism GRT”, said that the councillor’s remarks will cause “damage”.
“Do we really need the likes of David Burch in a position of authority?” she said.
Tyson Fury, the still unbeaten ex-boxing champ, also waded in, with a tweet to his 760,000 followers, and called Councillor Burch “racist”.
Councils, schools and other organisations paid for by the tax payer, are covered by equalities laws which forbid them from making racist or discriminatory statements. However, Members of Parliament are not covered by those laws.
Complaint to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission have, in the past, forced apologies from public officials making racist statements about Gypsies and Travellers. The Commission confirmed to the Travellers’ Times that the complaint has been received.
The Travellers’ Times contacted Milton Parish Council for comment but they did not reply.
By TT News
(Main picture © Warren Gunn)