Training is ordered at race row council
ALL South Cambridgeshire district councillors are to undergo diversity training after a member was dropped by his party for making a racist remark during a training session. The latest dark cloud over the council offices in Cambourne comes just a week aft
ALL South Cambridgeshire district councillors are to undergo diversity training after a member was dropped by his party for making a racist remark during a training session.
The latest dark cloud over the council offices in Cambourne comes just a week after a damning Audit Commission report found that at the authority there was a "clear perception amongst some stakeholders that some councillors' attitudes and behaviours are racist and discriminatory".
Members attending a workshop were said to be appalled when Cllr Ted Pateman, who is an ex-RAF serviceman, used a derogatory term to refer to people from the Middle East.
He added: "I don't differentiate between them, but treat them all as if they were English."
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The 79-year-old, who has had the Conservative whip withdrawn, said he did not mean to cause offence and added that the phrase was commonly used by people of his generation.
"It was not directed at any person and was used to describe people coming from the Middle East. I was trying to emphasise that we do not treat people any differently in the UK.
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"In hindsight, it is an offensive word to younger people and I should not have used it, but to my generation it was an everyday word."
Cllr Pateman, who lives in Lower Cambourne and has represented Cambourne, Bourn, Caxton, Croxton and Eltisley at SCDC since 1994, said he would remain on the council as an Independent candidate until he steps down in May.
He said: "I have enjoyed being a district councillor and have done my best to represent the needs and views of all my constituents.
"I would like to apologise for a remark I made at a training session. I did not mean to cause offence to anyone and have decided to act in the best interests of the council by resigning."
He told The Hunts Post he already intended to stand down in May because of health-related issues.
Following the incident, SCDC's leader, Cllr Ray Manning, has asked the chief executive to provide diversity training for all members. He said: "I am working with all political groups to move SCDC forward.
"While I do not believe Cllr Pateman intended to make a racist remark, the language that was used was offensive.
"His decision to resign is the honourable course and will allow us to remember him for his good work as a district and parish councillor.