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Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Tories reinstate racist texts row councillor (UK)

A Tory councillor who admitted sending racist texts from his mobile phone has been reinstated by the board of the Conservative Party.

Cllr Richard Powell, a 24-year-old language school consultant, was suspended after it was revealed that he sent offensive texts over a six-month period.

But his membership has been “immediately reinstated” after he agreed to attend a diversity awareness course.
Cllr Powell, who represents Westbourne and West Cliff on Bournemouth council, still faces possible sanctions after the case is discussed at a group meeting at the town hall tomorrow.

His attendance on the course has been welcomed by councillors from all political groups in Bournemouth.

But they have voiced concerns that it may not be enough to repair the Conservatives’ tarnished reputation in the town.
Fellow Conservative Cllr Nick King told the Daily Echo: “It is all very well going to a training course but he needs to understand how that fits with the role of a councillor.

“We have to represent everybody. You can’t do or say anything that to you might be funny but to others might be grossly offensive. Even your private actions can have an impact on how people perceive you.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Claire Smith added: “I am certainly glad that he is undertaking the training but it does concern me that the reputation of all councillors has been damaged in this fiasco.”

Cllr Powell is one of four Conservative councillors currently under investigation and Cllr Smith added: “People are just disgusted with councillors in Bournemouth at the moment – they are tarring us all with the same brush, unfortunately.”

Christopher Hammond, community development officer at the Dorset Race Equality Council, said it was “content that the standards committee has addressed the issue” in recommending that Cllr Powell attend training.

He added: “However, we do feel that it is imperative all councillors act in a manner which is in keeping with their public position in both their private and official capacity, acting as community champions for all of their constituents regardless of race, sexuality, disability or religion.”

Bournemouth echo