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Deal councillor Sue Beer denies making offensive carnival court remarks

By Eleanor Perkins

A councillor has denied claims that she described the town's carnival court as being "better now it has chubby, coloured girls".

Deal town councillor Sue Beer is accused of making the statement during a conversation over grant funding with chairman of Deal, Walmer and Kingsdown Carnival Association John Trickey.

Mr Trickey has complained to Dover District Council's monitoring officer and the mayor of Deal who claims he'll discuss it with the local constituency Labour party.

John and Rose Trickey with last year's carnival court representing Deal, Walmer and Kingsdown
John and Rose Trickey with last year's carnival court representing Deal, Walmer and Kingsdown

But Cllr Beer says he has misquoted her and offence was taken at what was intended as a compliment.

Mr Trickey told KentOnline: “She said ‘I don’t agree with carnival courts’ to which I bristled a bit because I’d recently been on the radio talking about the value of carnival courts.

“She continued, 'but they’re a bit better now that you have chubby, coloured girls'."

Mr Trickey says the conversation took place at a coffee morning inside the Deal and Betteshanger Social Club in Cavell Square in December.

About a week later, he reported the incident to the Mayor of Deal, Cllr Nick Tomaszewski at a public event, who contacted the town clerk and advised him on how to pursue a complaint.

John Trickey has run Deal Carnival Court for 23 years
John Trickey has run Deal Carnival Court for 23 years

But Cllr Beer, the member for North Deal since November 2016, said: “Mr Trickey has misquoted me and inferred something which is the opposite of what I said to him.

“We did have a conversation and I offered him some advice and support in filling out the grant forms.

“We did talk about carnival queens and I said I admire the work you do but personally I don’t care for them, I don’t like them personally.

“I then gave him a compliment, which was that I admire that in recent years we’ve had ladies of mixed race, or African American ethnicity. I wouldn’t use the word 'coloured'. I probably said 'black'.

“I said it generally speaking, that it’s nice to see that they’re not all blonde and thin - not that there’s anything wrong with being blonde or thin.

“I praised him on the fact that it was inclusive. I said it in the context that I was congratulating him.”

Mr Trickey and his wife Rose, both 73, have run the association which organises the annual Deal Carnival plus the Party on the Prom, Teddy Bear’s Picnic and Lorry Pull, for 23 years.

Cllr Sue Beer denies the claims
Cllr Sue Beer denies the claims

Each year, a different court made up of seven local girls attends the events, representing the town. They also travel around the county taking part in other carnivals.

His conversation with Cllr Beer, he says, centred on the council’s recent changes to its grants system, which Cllr Beer was involved with.

He said the changes mean an organisation can only apply for one grant per year.

"In the past Mr Trickey has been awarded two grants - £1,000 for Deal Carnival and £500 for the Christmas Carnival, helping towards the £16,000 overheads.

Cllr Tomaszewski said: “John Trickey has alerted me to this very serious allegation.

"I will alert the local Constituency Labour Party who will confirm that such statements, if founded, are totally abhorrent to our party’s philosophy.”

A Dover District Council spokesman said: "Where a complaint is received it has to be dealt with in accordance with the Council’s adopted arrangements for dealing with such complaints.

"We would not be able to comment on whether or not a complaint had been made. For more information, please see the DDC website."

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