October 26, 2021 4.06 pm

Petition calls for South Kesteven vice chairman to resign after racist remark

“Racist language is not OK”

A petition has been launched calling for South Kesteven District Council’s vice chairman to resign after a racist remark he made during a meeting last week.

Conservative Councillor Ian Stokes was suspended by his party after using the n-word in response to another member’s comments while chairing a governance and audit committee on October 20.

He later apologised and retracted the remark, however, equalities campaigners and fellow councillors have said further action needs to be taken.

A petition launched on change.org by Emma Savage said: “This is not good enough. Councillor Stokes has been suspended from The Conservative Party but he needs to resign.  This petition has been started to put pressure on Councillor Stokes to do the right thing.”

She later updated it to add: “We cannot let Councillor Stokes carry on with just a slap on the wrist.”

The petition has had more than 120 signatures since it was set-up almost a day ago.

Commenter Ephriam Batambuze said: “I’m tired of government officials (people meant to represent our communities) giving the general public the impression that it’s okay to be racist in 2021. It was wholly inappropriate for Councillor Stokes to think he had the right to use the phrase he did.”

Meanwhile, Alex Jarvis said: “Racist language is not OK. He should have known better that to use such a dated and awful phrase, but typically as a privileged white male he’s never had to think about racism or the consequences of his actions.”

Following Councillor Stokes’ actions, Council leader Kelham Cooke said in a statement: “As a Conservative group and as a district council we take any form of racism incredibly seriously, especially when remarks are made that could cause serious offence.

“As a Conservative administration we consider the use of this type of language by any member completely unacceptable. It is right that Councillor Ian Stokes has formally apologised and withdrawn the remark he made at the committee meeting.”

Councillor Amanda Wheeler (left) says training should be mandatory for committee membership. Councillor Ian Stokes (right) this week was suspended for using racist language.

A statement from the council as a whole said: “We at South Kesteven District Council take Wednesday’s incident extremely seriously and believe that racist language has no place in modern society. Our Monitoring Officer spoke to the councillor in question immediately after the comments made and we are currently investigating.”

Following the meeting it was also revealed that a majority of councillors did not take up a diversity course at South Kesteven District Council, as an opposition member renewed calls for training to be mandatory after the council’s vice chairman was suspended for using the n-word in a meeting this week.

A spokesman for the authority confirmed just 15 of the 54 members attended equality and diversity training over two sessions held on June 7, 2021.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Amanda Wheeler, who last year successfully pushed through a motion for diversity training to be offered, is now drafting up a new motion calling for it to be mandatory for councillors who want to be members on all committees – not just licensing or planning.

Spotted an error? Please notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.