Councillor apologises for swearing - but not for tax anger

A district councillor who uttered an expletive during a council debate said that though he has apologised for using the swear word, he will not apologise for his anger at the bedroom tax.

Coun Jim Grundy, a Labour councillor for Hucknall, lost his temper at Thursday’s Ashfield District Council meeting during a heated debate on the controversial Government policy.

The issue was raised by the submission of a petition by a member of the public calling for the council to adopt a ‘no evictions policy’ to any Ashfield council tenant who gets into rent arrears as a result of the bedroom tax.

In the ensuing debate there were angry exchanges between Labour and opposition Liberal Democrat and independent councillors and Coun Grundy’s outburst triggered a furious reaction from opposition members, who threatened to leave the meeting if action was not taken.

After a short adjournment, Coun Grundy apologised and then left the meeting.

Coun Grundy said afterwards that he apologised to the chairman, the leader of the council and the gentleman who presented the petition and denied that the swear word was directed at any particular opposition councillor.

“The only thing I am sorry about is if anyone was offended,” he said.

“I am more offended by the bedroom tax and what it’s doing to people.”

Coun Grundy said that he has seen first-hand the effects that the bedroom tax is having on Ashfield residents, which he described as a ‘sobering and very distressing experience’.

“The real story is the impact this is having on the most vulnerable people. Elsewhere in the country, people have been driven to suicide,” he said.

“The real question is what’s obscene - one word uttered in the heat of the moment or people being driven to cut their heating or pushed to suicide?”

Coun Chris Baron, the leader of the district council, said that Coun Grundy’s behaviour at the meeting had been ‘totally unacceptable’.

“I am pleased to say he not only apologised to the chairman, the elected members and members of the general public because of his conduct, but that he voluntarily left the meeting,” Coun Baron said.

“It will be discussed at a political level about whether any further action is needed.”

An Ashfield District Council spokesman said that the meeting was audio recorded as usual and the recording will be available online but will be censored appropriately.