Coventry & Warwickshire

Nuneaton councillor criticises 'brain dead' residents

caravans illegally camp on private land [generic] Image copyright Barcroft Media/Getty
Image caption Councillor Barry Longden made the comments in a row over illegal traveller camps

A councillor who labelled residents complaining about illegal traveller camps as "brain dead" and "morons" is facing calls to resign.

Barry Longden, Labour councillor for Nuneaton and Bedworth Council, said he was referring to a small number of residents making "nasty" comments.

His remarks were made in an email sent to councillors and repeated in a community group on Facebook.

Conservative opposition councillors have called for his resignation.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Barry Longden posted comments in Nuneaton community groups on Facebook

Mr Longden, who is the cabinet member for housing, health and communities, told the BBC his comments had been "taken out of context" and, while he was not going to resign, he would not stand for election in 2020.

Problems with illegal traveller sites across the borough have been going on for months, he said, but denied the council was not handling the situation.

On Facebook, Mr Longden said the complaining residents were "morons" who "can't read" and are "so self-opinionated they don't want to know anything else".

He said his comments, which "applied to about 50 to 60 residents" unhappy with the camps, were made to "support staff who had suffered vile comments and derogatory treatment from these keyboard warriors".

Image copyright Kris Wilson
Image caption Councillor Kris Wilson shared an email sent to councillors early on Sunday morning

Councillor Kris Wilson, leader or the Conservative opposition, said: "No councillor should show such obvious contempt for residents", and called the comments "beyond the pale".

He called on Mr Longden to resign, saying: "Anyone who refers to people in Nuneaton and Bedworth as such are (sic) unfit to be running this council".

Labour lost control of the council in May 2018 and has just one more seat than the Conservatives - leading Mr Longden to suggest there was a "political motive" behind calls for his resignation.

"I'm not going anyway," he said. "I am not going to be bullied into resigning."

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