Robert Clifton-Brown still standing in St Edmundsbury council elections after ‘racist’ Traveller comments

The application was by the Delaney family, who have been in Bury St Edmunds for many years

The application was by the Delaney family, who have been in Bury St Edmunds for many years - Credit: Archant

The Withersfield ward councillor who made “racist” remarks about a Bury St Edmunds Traveller site application has been deselected by the Tories.

Robert Clifton-Brown

Robert Clifton-Brown - Credit: Archant

Robert Clifton-Brown is fighting as an independent candidate in the Withersfield ward, and told the EADT he has been “unfairly treated” by the Conservatives.

Last night, the West Suffolk Conservative Association hit back at the claims, saying he was deselected unanimously because they disapproved of his comments.

Mr Clifton-Brown, who has served as a local politician for more than 40 years, claims the Conservatives also voiced concerns that he may not make a full four-year term due to his age. This was strongly denied by the party.

He said: “You can never know everything, I fully intend to serve the next four years. I feel very fit and well at the moment and have no problems - but whether I make it is in the lap of the gods.”

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He would not disclose his age, saying only that he was into his 80s, adding: “They (the Conservatives) said a by-election would be expensive.

“I have no intention of passing away half way through, but if I do die on the job, like everybody else does, then so be it.”

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Mr Clifton-Brown was branded “racist” by equality campaigners from the Gypsy Council, and the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, after he compared Irish Travellers and Gypsies to criminals in February this year.

At a development and control committee meeting about an application by the Delaney family for five pitches, he said: “One last point, I think I will request the officers to look for another site preferably bang next door to a police station.”

Despite sending an apology to the EADT in February, Mr Clifton-Brown has since said he does not regret making the statement.

“I think I said something that a lot of people want to say,” he said. “I don’t regret saying it. I perhaps regretted using those particular words.”

He will be facing up against Conservative candidate Jane Midwood at the election and UKIP’s Dudley Haylock.

“I have a lot of supporters,” he said. “I have represented Little Bradley for over 40 years, people know who I am.

“I am not sure what the result will be. I am worried I will lose, but many people have said they support me.”

The West Suffolk Conservative Association chair, Mary Evans, said in a statement: “The officers group of the West Suffolk Conservative Association, in a unanimous vote, deselected Mr Clifton-Brown because we had lost confidence in him as a candidate and disapproved of his remarks at the St Edmdunsbury development control meeting, which did not represent Conservative views.

“We have since selected an excellent and experienced candidate, Jane Midwood, to stand for the Conservatives in the Withersfield ward.”

Speaking yesterday, she added: “When someone has been a Conservative member for so many years, you obviously have a certain amount of affection for them. But he gave us no other choice than to deselect him.”

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