Hate crime row breaks out in council chamber

Councillor Martin Wright
Councillor Martin Wright

A councillor who proposed that Mansfield District Council needs to help stamp out hate crimes has been accused of making comments about eastern Europeans.

Councillor Martin Wright put forward a motion for members to pledge to take a stand against xenophobia.

It follows a spike in crimes against foreign nationals living in Britain since the Brexit vote at the EU referendum.

But in response to the motion, Coun Sally Higgins said: “It was only at the last planning meeting he said there was a lot of Eastern Europeans drinking and causing anti-social behaviour in Mansfield.

“I hope he will take notice of what this motion is saying.”

Coun Wright’s comments were made during discussions over a planning application to open a 22-bedroom multi-occupancy house at the former Redlands Christian Care home on Rock Hill.

He felt it would not attract professional people as the applicant claimed, but said it was more likely to be taken up by people from overseas.

All planning committee members, including Coun Wright and Higgins, voted to reject the plans.

In response to Coun Higgins’, Coun Wright told the full council meeting: “I said there were people from overseas who would take up this house.

“I said we didn’t have professional people visiting Mansfield who needed somewhere to lay their head, but we do have plenty of people from overseas.”

The motion to condemn racism, xenophobia and hate crimes was carried with 30 councillors voting in favour.

Coun Nick Bennett was the only member to vote against the motion.

The staunch Brexit supporter, who has regularly spoken out against the number of immigrants living in Mansfield, said afterward: “It would be hypocritical of me to vote in favour. There are a lot of hard workers who come to this country, but my concerns are about those who come here just to take the benefits.”