A COUNCILLOR accused of labelling a group of villagers ‘elitist and racist’ at a public meeting has vowed to explain her comments.
Horsfield councillor Ann Kerrigan admitted using the words at Wednesday’s meeting of Pendle Council’s West Craven Committe when she spoke in support of a charity’s plans to continue test-riding motorcycles in a field off Gisburn Old Road, Blacko.
Marion Lang, a resident who was against Wheels Within Wheels’s application, said a number of objectors had taken offence at Coun Kerrigan’s comments and urged her to issue an explanation or apology.
Yesterday, Coun Kerrigan said her comments had been ‘slightly misunderstood’ and vowed to publicly issue an explanation, possibly in the form of an apology, in the next few days.
Wheels Within Wheels, which trains youngsters in all things cycle-related, has been using the field to test out mini-motos and quad bikes since 2003.
But residents’ objections to the scheme had threatened to stop official authorisation being given.
Mrs Lang described their concerns over the charity’s plans as ‘legitimate’ and said Coun Kerrigan’s comments had been ‘corr-osive, unnecessary and inappropriate'.
She said: “Presumably she thinks that anyone who lives in a nice area and who does not agree with her views can quite legitimately be branded elitist and racist.
“Comments such as these from an elected councillor are totally unacceptable.”
Coun Kerrigan said: “I think she slightly misunderstood what I said.
“I didn’t call them elitist and racist, but I did use those words.
"I will be making an acknowledgement through the council and will probably put it in the form of an apology.”
Committee members voted in favour of allowing the charity to continue using the field, providing activity is restricted to between 10am and 4pm.
However, a planning contravention notice will be issued, telling them to remove a portable toilet and cabin.
Speaking after the meeting, Nasser Mahmood, project manager, said: “We have never broken any rules or regulations.
“After speaking to these residents, a lot of them now realise how vital the work is that we do with young people in the community and they now support us.”