Councillor to Have Diversity Training After Golliwog Remarks

Claire Carter, Telegraph (London), December 20, 2013

A Conservative councillor is to undergo diversity training after she claimed that golliwogs are “nostalgic, not racist”.

Dawn Barnett was found guilty of bringing Brighton and Hove City Council into disrepute with her remarks.

At a closed hearing, a panel of three councillors said the 72-year-old should have diversity training.

She was cleared of failing to treat others with respect and breaching the Equalities Act and the panel also recommended all councillors should have diversity training in future.

In August, Cllr Barnett said she thought golliwogs were “nostalgic, not racist”.

She also dismissed complaints against a homestore in Brighton selling golliwog placemats as “political correctness gone too far”.

Four complaints from three people were made to the council’s Black and Minority Ethnic Workers’ Forum in response to her comments.

Cllr Barnett said she thought the issue should never have progressed to a hearing, which took more than five hours, and was a waste of taxpayers’ money.

She said: “They threw out the two most serious charges but said I was guilty of breaching the code of conduct.

“I am pleased they have let me off on the other two serious charges but very disappointed they have judged I broke the code of conduct.

“I don’t think it should have got this far, it was a waste of taxpayers’ money and officers’ time.

“I apologised to anyone who was upset by my comments and that should have been the end of it.

“I understand the reasons why they had it behind closed doors but there were a lot of upset people outside the meeting that were angry it wasn’t held in public.”

The hearing was originally due to take place on November 28 but was postponed after Cllr Barnett fell down a flight of stairs on her way to the meeting.

The panel included three councillors as well as a monitoring officer, head of complaints, and head of democratic services.

A council report on the proceedings will not be made available to the public until early next week.

The golliwog character appeared in the 19th century and are now widely classed as racist because their features–with black skin, eyes rimmed in white and frizzy hair–are seen as an over-exaggeration of racial stereotypes.

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said the incident highlighted the “need for training and awareness raising among all councillors on equalities issues”.

This will form part of member development in the future, she added.

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