Huntingdonshire councillor apologises for swearing in exchange with member of public

Huntingdonshire District Council

Huntingdonshire District Council - Credit: Archant

A DISTRICT councillor says he will apologise “unreservedly” for using a swear word in an exchange with a member of the public following the approval of a controversial planning application.

An investigation has started after Cllr Richard West was accused of showing “utter contempt” for the people of Godmanchester at this month’s Huntingdonshire District Council development management panel meeting.

The panel approved, in principle, a 750-home development at Bearscroft Farm, just off the A1198, near its junction with the A14.

Nigel Pauley, a national newspaper journalist who lives in the town, has complained to HDC following alleged comments made by Cllr West after the decision.

Mr Pauley, who spoke in opposition to the scheme, says he suggested to Cllr West that he would need to find an alternative route into Huntingdon as the road through Godmanchester would be blocked due to extra traffic coming from the homes he had just backed.

In response, he claims Tory Cllr West snapped at him, saying: “I don’t give a bugger what the people of Godmanchester think. I am hear to discuss planning.”

As a result, Mr Pauley wrote to HDC’s head of legal and democratic services, Colin Meadowcroft, suggesting the councillor’s words and attitude were not what he expected from an elected member.

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Speaking to The Hunts Post, Cllr West, who represents Gransden and The Offords, admitted he had used the wrong language. “I did use the word ‘bugger’ which I will unreservedly apologise for,” he said. “It is not acceptable to use a swear word in the civic suite. It should not have been used and I was wrong to use it.”

Commenting on the decision to approve the Bearscroft plan, which had been opposed by a 2,000-plus signature petition, he said he had sympathy with Godmanchester residents.

But he had supported the application, he said, because he thought a planning inspector would back the proposals in the event of an appeal.

A HDC spokesman confirmed a complaint had been made and was being investigated.