Councillor Kay Cutts, the leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, has said her words have been taken out of context after she was accused of using “vile and nasty” language about immigrants.
Conservative Councillor Cutts said she had merely been talking about ways councils work together when housing Syrian refugees.
But a leading opposition councillor said her words had been a “dark, sinister way of scapegoating people in need”.
Jason Zadrozny, who is the leader of Ashfield District Council, said she had used immigrants to “justify” creating a new council for the whole of Nottinghamshire.
Councillor Cutts, who represents the Radcliffe on Trent ward, made the comments during a behind-closed-doors meeting between the leaders of seven district councils and the leader of the county council.
They were discussing a plan which could see all boroughs and districts abolished, and a new ‘super council’ set up to cover the whole of the county, excluding the city.
READ MORE: What would a 'super-council' mean for you?
Yesterday (November 14) in a public meeting, the leader of the county council, Councillor Kay Cutts, was asked to explain the comments and apologise.
She declined an opportunity to comment on the allegations during the meeting, but spoke to media afterwards about the what she said.
She said: “It’s been taken out of context to make a bit of mischief.
“We were talking about where we can collaborate together as councils, and where we don’t share things with each other.
“I pointed out that when they (borough and district councils) bring in an immigrant family into one of their council houses, it has an impact on the county council, because we have to educate the children who often have complex needs, and that’s all it was about.
“It was simply another impact on something we can’t control. There wasn’t meant to be any sort of racist remark, and I’m surprised anyone took it that way.
“I think it is a stick to beat me with, because Jason (Zadrozny) was in a temper by this time (during the private meeting), he had accused our facilitator of patronising him, and was saying he was on the verge of leaving the meeting, so I think he was being a little bit over the top with that, and therefore he was looking for something to hit out on, so I really don’t know why he decided to do that.”
Speaking after the leader defended the statement, Councillor Zadrozny said: “The bigoted comments from Councillor Cutts were not taken out of context. After being put under pressure in the meeting, Councillor Cutts blurted out her controversial, racist comment.
“She cannot and should not get away with using a minority to play the blame game.
"Nottinghamshire County Council is suffering a £54m black hole in its finances because of Conservative cuts.
“Councillor Cutts should not use the politics of Enoch Powell to further her ambition of scrapping our councils.
"I repeat that in the light of her comments.
“It was the worst thing I’ve heard a politician say.
"It was a dark, sinister way of scapegoating people in need.
“This was the first opportunity I had to raise her abhorrent comments in public.
"People will be appalled when she’s using immigrants and refugees to justify her lifelong political goal to create a huge super-council.
“Both my grandfathers are Polish Immigrants who fought in the Second World War – I am personally offended by what she said.
" I know that others at the meeting were too.
“Councillor Kay Cutts should consider whether she is a morally fit and appropriate person to run our council.”
READ MORE: "Councils should be abolished"