Saturday, 19 August 2017

David Silvester apologises for offence but won't resign

HENLEY town councillor David Silvester has apologised for upsetting the gay community after blaming the recent storms and floods on the legalisation of same-sex marriages.

But he refused to resign at an extraordinary meeting of the town council last night that was called to discuss his comments.

To read Councillor Silvester’s speech in full, click here

Councillor Silvester, who was expelled by UKIP yesterday, said it had not been his intention to “embarrass” his council or party when he made his claims in a letter to the Henley Standard last month.

“Neither was it my intention to insult the gay community and I certainly apologise to them if personal insult has been their perception,” he said. “Indeed, a number of them have been my friends or acquaintances over the years.”

About 40 people attended the meeting and more than a dozen people spoke either in favour of Cllr Silvester or against him. His supporters included his wife Irene.

Sarah Butcher, 40, of Belle Vue Road, said she had collected nearly 25,000 signatures on an online petition demanding his resignation and believed this showed that the majority of people wanted him to step down.

Cllr Silvester, 73, of Luker Avenue, Henley, listed his voluntary roles in the community and added: “I reject this petition and I do so on the basis that I was elected for four years and I intend to stay for four years.”

The town council voted unanimously that Cllr Silvester’s comments were his personal views and not those of the council.

It has no powers to take any disciplinary action but it has passed 12 complaints on to South Oxfordshire District Council’s monitoring officer, who will decide whether he should be investigated for a possible breach of the councillors’ code of conduct.

Cllr Silvester, a member of Henley Baptist Church, was Conservative councillor but defected to UKIP a year ago in protest of the Government’s decision to pass the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act.

He will now stand as an independent councillor until next year’s council elections.

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