Nottinghamshire County Council's reputation 'damaged' over decision to promote Steve Vickers after he made racist remarks on Facebook
The reputation of Nottinghamshire County Council has been damaged over the decision to promote a councillor after it was discovered he made racist remarks on Facebook, according to the leader of the Labour Group on the council.
Despite being suspended from the national Conservative Party over the remarks, Councillor Steve Vickers was made the chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board — a move which comes with an additional £23,000 a year.
Around a month after he was given the job, he stepped down. It emerged he voluntarily stood down, rather than being removed from the post by the leader of the council.
In 2016, councillor Vickers said London Mayor Sadiq Khan ‘and his brethren’ were ‘part of the problem’, and that we should ‘hunt them all down’, in the wake of the Nice terror attacks.
When he was given the job, he said he would be making a formal apology for the comments on the anniversary of the attacks on July 14 this year, however, no such apology has been made.
At the time of the promotion, the leader of the council Kay Cutts said the comments had been made ‘in the heat of the moment’, and that Mr Vickers — who represents Retford East for the Conservatives —had apologised to her personally.
During a meeting of the full council, a question was asked by Labour leader Alan Rhodes about the episode.
He said it had caused reputational damage, and called for the leader of the council to apologise publicly. No apology was made.
Mr Rhodes, who represents Worksop North for Labour, said: “The appointment of councillor Vickers caused widespread anger and offence, among partners in other local authorities and within the health community, and members of the public were outraged.
“Will the leader of the county council take this opportunity to apologise for the offence caused by her appointment of councillor Vickers, and for the subsequent damage to the reputation of the county council."
Council leader Mrs Kay Cutts said: “At the full council meeting on June 11, I explained the reasons why my group and I had chosen to accept the apology from councillor Vickers for any offence caused by comments he made in the social media post he made before he became a county councillor.
“Steve (Vickers) has a number of French friends, and therefore he felt especially shocked at this appalling event (The Nice Terror attack).
“It was councillor Vickers’ own decision to step down from his position rather than become a distraction from the business of the council.
“There has been no decision by the (national) Conservative Party, and I can only assume the investigation is ongoing. I will inform the council if this situation changes, and at this date I have nothing further to add.”
Mr Rhodes then said: “The fact councillor Vickers made his own decision to resign and it wasn’t councillor Cutts’ decision tells its own story, and leaves unanswered questions about her own leadership.”
She replied: “My unqualified support for councillor Vickers was based upon the way he acted as chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board, and he conducted his duties diligently.
“I can imagine that my being leader of the Conservative Group will always cause some politicians somewhere to be offended at my leadership, because of my politics.”
The comments, made a day after the terror attack, said: “The atrocities in Nice. I saw a post this afternoon about lighting candles and holding hands!
“B****x to that. Hunt them all down. Enough of all the political correctness and make Europe a safe place again.
“Sadiq Khan has asked questions about increased security in London. Has he now!
“He and his brethren are part of the problem.
“The Muslim leaders in every mosque in the country should be denouncing terrorists attacks every day in their local papers, in their establishments and on TV and radio.
“It is them who are now culpable for these attacks by their silence.”