Published: 10:44, 11 May 2022
| Updated: 16:18, 11 May 2022
Politicians smiling at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new food bank have been slammed for being "insensitive".
Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite (Con) was photographed alongside the mayor holding a pair of scissors.
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But former Labour opposition leader and councillor Jonathon Hawkes tweeted: "The Tory leader of Dartford cutting the ribbon on another foodbank today. The choice for Dartford next year couldn’t be clearer. More foodbanks with the Tories or a Labour administration genuinely committed to supporting residents through the Conservative cost of living crisis."
It was quickly jumped on by LBC host James O'Brien who angrily asked what "are they all so happy about?"
The issue was then debated on his radio show with callers saying the "celebrating" the opening of a food bank was "disgusting".
Mr Kite then unexpectedly phoned in and said: "I love my town, I love the people in it and I am trying to do the right thing.
"There was a bit of a joke about the count down before the photo was taken.
"Food banks began under Labour. This was not a party and really if it was it was organised by the people who volunteer and run the food bank."
"You didn't think it was inappropriate?" asked Mr O'Brien, while questioning why the pictures had been removed from the council's Facebook page.
"We took the pictures down because the comments underneath had become political. My understanding is that the pictures are going back," Mr Kite said.
Mr O'Brien said: "What were you thinking? You are an elected representative of the party responsible for the cost of living crisis."
Mr Kite responded: "The necessity of food banks are a real scar on our country. The organisers thought it was appropriate and that's why we did it. If the people at the food bank thought it was appropriate then as a guest it is not for me to say whether it was appropriate or not."
When asked if it was a mistake to be photographed laughing and joking at the opening Mr Kite said: "I was very pleased to go there. It would be a mistake not to have done what the volunteers wanted."
The council leader has since released a statement on the matter, while Dartford Foodbank trustee Stephen Brindley has said the opening event was a moment that should be celebrated.