Councillor quits Conservative group
A COUNCILLOR who made a racially offensive comment in a public library has quit the ruling Conservative administration on Suffolk County Council.But Keith Myers-Hewitt, who represents Stowmarket, will continue as an Independent county councillor on the authority.
By John Howard
A COUNCILLOR who made a racially offensive comment in a public library has quit the ruling Conservative administration on Suffolk County Council.
But Keith Myers-Hewitt, who represents Stowmarket, will continue as an Independent county councillor on the authority.
He also remains a Stowmarket town councillor, although the Conservative group there have already thrown him out and member have gone further and passed a vote of no confidence, urging him to resign. Racial equality campaigners have also urged him to quit public life altogether.
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Mr Myers-Hewitt, a Korean War veteran, said yesterday: “The Standards Board decided not to censure me for this alleged remark, which I again insist I did not make and was merely mis-overheard.
“However, this issue is continuing to affect the standing of the Conservative group at Suffolk County Council and is also getting in the way of the important work that the Conservative administration is doing.
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“Therefore, to avoid further embarrassment, I have decided to resign from the group and to sit and serve as an independent councillor in the future. I shall continue to represent the people of Stowmarket South to the best of my abilities.”
A tribunal recently found that Mr Myers-Hewitt made an offensive comment which referred to “darkies”.
Yesterday's announcement of Mr Myers-Hewitt's departure comes after Bryony Rudkin, leader of Suffolk County Council's Labour group, asked whether council leader Jeremy Pembroke was prepared to allow Mr Myers-Hewitt to remain in the Tory group.
Mrs Rudkin asked whether Mr Pembroke “intends to follow the example of the Stowmarket Town Council Conservative Group and expel Mr Myers-Hewitt”.
She said that between 1993 and 2005 the Labour-led Suffolk County Council earned a high reputation for working to promote and practice an inclusive agenda free from any kind of prejudice.
Mr Pembroke said yesterday: “I have today been informed by councillor Myers-Hewitt that, after reflecting on the recent issues highlighted by the Standards Board for England, he has decided to resign from the Conservative group of Suffolk County Council and I have accepted his resignation.”
After the panel's findings Mr Myers-Hewitt, who is in his 70s and is a former chairman of the Bury St Edmunds Conservative Association, unreservedly apologised to anyone who found his reported comment offensive, but said he was no racist.
The tribunal had found that he had had no bad motive, but had simply attempted a poor joke, using poor racial epithets, at Stowmarket's town library on July 7 last year.