Medway councillor David Carr suspended after claiming travellers 'screw everything up'
Cllr David Carr, Medway Council cabinet member for community safety
The new man in charge of allocating Medway's traveller sites has been suspended today after he said travellers "screw everything up".
Cllr David Carr (Con), a former mayor, made the comments during his first interview as cabinet member for community safety on Medway Council.
Just hours after the controversial comments were published on KentOnline, Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers announced he had been suspended from his position.
Cllr Carr was promoted last week to the role, whose duties include strategic planning of traveller sites.
"Why don't they learn to live like everybody else does? Why do they take everything, screw it up and move on...?" - Cllr David Carr
When asked for his views on how best to deal with travellers, he said generally he was "against freeloaders".
He added: "I would have no hesitation in strategising a solution for travellers if travellers were going to be responsible community inhabitants, but that in itself is questionable against their name – 'travellers'. If they're going to travel they can hardly become part of the integrated community.
"They move on and turn it into a building site. They crap all over the place, they p*ss over the field, they throw rubbish all over the place."
Cllr Rodney Chambers this afternoon branded the comments unacceptable.
He said: "Cllr Carr has been suspended from his position as portfolio holder for community services and customer contact pending a review of the issues covered within the article.
"Cllr Carr's comments were not acceptable and he now appreciates that this is the case.
"We do not support the comments Cllr Carr said in the interview he gave shortly after being appointed to the portfolio.
"We at Medway Council are very proud of its record of working closely with all our communities across Medway and we are determined that the excellent relationships we have built up over the years will continue."
Cllr Carr's comments were earlier condemned by the Gypsy Council, who have called for him to be prosecuted as well as lose his job.
Co-chairman Joseph Jones said: "Cllr Carr should hang his head in political shame, using us for political gain. He has a responsibility to every member of society, not a select few."
Travellers are moved on by police after setting up camp in Ramsgate
Last month Paris Brown, who resigned from her post as Kent's Youth Police and Crime Commissioner after ill-judged tweets, was questioned by special branch police after making derogatory comments about travellers. She faced no further action.
Mr Carr's criticisms of traveller behaviour and lifestyle were made at the council offices five days into his new role.
He added: "Are they just people who sit in a caravan and plant themselves wherever they see fit without paying council tax and without cleaning up after themselves? Should one develop a nice strategy for that... no.
"They live on the fringe of that. They take everything they can get and give very little back so I take a pretty hard line.
Gypsy Council co-chairman Joseph Jones
"Why don't they learn to live like everybody else does? Why do they take everything, screw it up and move on?
"If they wanted to be part of society and take their place in society by paying their way, cleaning up after themselves and allowing themselves to be subject to community laws... if I could guarantee that and we had a nice brownfield site somewhere that they wouldn't screw up and we knew for sure they would take a positive attitude I would be very happy to do that.
"But as far as I know successes in this area are very very few and far between.
Cllr Carr also claimed he had a tonne of coal stolen from him 26 years ago and followed the tyre tracks back to a traveller site, but no prosecution was brought.
Mr Jones said: "We feel that Cllr Carr has not one inkling of what the gypsy and traveller community culture is all about.
"For over 500 years, we have had bigots like Cllr Carr making sweeping statements that could be taken in a right-wing racist way, inciting racial hatred toward the gypsy and traveller community."
Mr Jones claimed problems only existed because councils were failing in their legal duty to provide sites.
"We are now seeking Cllr Carr stands down from his political career for his racist rant. We are seeking a prosecution."
A former Chatham Technical School pupil (now Chatham Grammar for Boys), David Carr was elected in 2007 after a long career as an engineer.
He worked at Chatham Dockyard, Marconi Electronic Systems in Rochester (now BAE Systems) and oversaw the construction of Grain Power Station.
Mayor of Medway in 2008/9, community safety is Cllr Carr’s first cabinet role and includes CCTV, trading standards, community officers, licensing and food hygiene inspections.
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