Colchester councillor dubs Lib Dems ‘despicable’ in email blunder defended as ‘banter’

Essex County Cllr Dave Harris, and Colchester Borough Councillors Nigel Offen, Lyn Barton, Pauline H

Essex County Cllr Dave Harris, and Colchester Borough Councillors Nigel Offen, Lyn Barton, Pauline Hazell and Tim Young celebrate the centenary of the Great War by planting commemorative trees on housing developments, including Blenheim Park development. - Credit: Su Anderson

A private email between two Colchester councillors that was accidentally forwarded onto the town’s MP has sparked a war of words between politicians.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell speaking at the A120 event at the Marks Tey Hotel

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell speaking at the A120 event at the Marks Tey Hotel

The email exchange was between Labour’s Dave Harris and Julie Young following an invitation from a member of Colchester Borough Homes to join them on a neighbourhood walk around Shrub End to establish if there were any areas that needed work.

Mr Harris sent a private response to Mrs Young, which said: “Do I attend as county councillor? Will wind up the despicable lib dems. Might be worth it for that alone. What’s your advice please?”

When Mrs Young responded, she replied to all the recipients on the original mailing list, which included the Liberal Democrats’ Nigel Offen and Lyn Barton.

This was forwarded to Colchester MP and Liberal Democrat, Sir Bob Russell.


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Sir Bob said: “I am very sad and very disappointed that anybody holding elected office could say such say such a thing.

“While we may disagree on policies, that is what democracy is all about, but to lower the tone in that way is not the way people in public office should behave.”

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Mr Harris said it was a “throw away remark” that was made because of the day-to-day complaints he received from Colchester residents about this government.

He said: “I try to do my community the best I can, but it’s against the backdrop of what’s happening - bedroom tax, benefits, pensioners, university fees, all of that means people are angry and they are polarised.

“If he wants to hear what real people say then in reflection my comments were rather kind and polite, they would use language that I wouldn’t use.”

Mrs Young’s husband and fellow Labour borough councillor, Tim Young jumped to the defence of Mr Harris and deemed the email as “a bit of banter”.

He said: “Dave Harris is one of the most hard working councillors in the borough and for him to have the nerve to complain about him, well it takes my breath away.”

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