December 5 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, August 18, 2013
A COUNCILLOR has denied likening St Neots Town Council to Nazi Germany at a meeting where he compared a council policy to something from the regime of Robert Mugabe.
Cambridgeshire county and Huntingdonshire district councillor Steve Van de Kerkhove was alleged to have made the comments at a town council meeting on July 25.
The draft minutes claim Cllr Van de Kerkhove spoke from the public gallery against the council’s intention to amend Standing Order No.15, giving them more power to control exclusions from committee meetings.
Some town councillors have called for him to apologise or resign unless he can provide adequate justification for his claims.
Cllr Van de Kerkhove, however, said he felt the draft minutes were a “gross misrepresentation” of his comments and that he was the subject of a “witch-hunt”.
Leader of the town’s Conservative group Councillor Roger Harrison said: “These comments are highly offensive, not only to St Neots Town Council, its chairman, members and staff but also to the people of St Neots, particularly members of the town’s Jewish community or any residents living in St Neots from Zimbabwe.
“His comments show a complete lack of judgement, complete arrogance and are extremely childish. His behaviour has fallen well below the standard expected of those in public life, and nothing short of his resignation can be seen as acceptable to the people he represents.”
Cllr Van de Kerkhove told The Hunts Post: “Firstly, I never used the word Nazi and, secondly, I referred only to the proposed amendment to the standing orders not the council, members or officers. I feel the [policy] amendment is an attack on democracy, preventing proper accountability and scrutiny of the council.
“I will certainly not make an apology as I stand by what I said. I was also speaking in the public participation section and not the section for district and county councillors.
“This has now become a witch-hunt because I have clearly touched a nerve.”
Cllr Van de Kerkhove said he wanted the minutes amended and did not believe draft versions should be made public.