If you’ve ever been on a package holiday to Spain – the perception is white working class – you’re not welcome in Devon. That’s according to comments from a Conservative Councillor on the board of the body that aims to attract economic development in the region, the SW LEP.
It has been reported to us that Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, was keen that the people who would be tempted by Benidorm and Magaluf are not welcome in Devon.
Dive into tourism
“We should promote Benidorm and Magaluf as they keep the sort of people away from us that we do not want in our area,” is what we’ve been told said Rufus Gilbert at the LEP deep dive into tourism on Friday 19 February.
Three people raised concerns, including Torbay Council Lib Dem leader Steve Darling. And Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans took him to task over his remarks. But Rufus, the Conservative Devon County Councillor for Salcombe, gave no apology or said he misspoke.
Being discriminatory against a certain sector of society – in this case white working class people – contravenes the Nolan principles around public life, as follows:
- Objectivity: ‘Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.’
- Leadership: ‘Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs’”
A request to see a recording of the event has been made by Steve Darling to David Ralph, chief executive of the Heart of the South West LEP. Steve has also made a formal complain to chair of the LEP Board is Karl Tucker.
We asked the South West LEP for a comment, and this is it:
“It is not appropriate for the LEP to comment. The priority for the LEP and partners at this time is the safe re-opening and sustainable recovery of all sectors across the heart of the south west area.”
According to the Heart of the South West LEP website the organisation exists to ‘lead and influence economic growth, job creation and prosperity across the Heart of the South West area covering Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay’.
Rufus is part of the board of the SW LEP. And here’s what they say they do:
“The LEP Chair and Board work to strengthen the LEP’s role as the main thought-leader influencing economic development in the HotSW area and deliver the area’s Local Industrial Strategy that aligns with the Government’s National Industrial Strategy.”
Seems being a thought-leader includes snide remarks about perceptions of class. Classy.
Rufus Gilbert has been contacted for a comment – if and when it pops up, we’ll add it.
We asked Devon County Council (on Twitter) about their responsibilty for councillors behaviour… we’ve yet to hear.
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