‘I’m no racist!’ – councillor hits back in row over mayoralty

Posted On 17 May 2022 at 1:30 pm

Councillor Dawn Barnett has hit back in the row over the mayoralty, making a formal complaint about remarks by a political opponent and saying: “I’m no racist.”

The Conservative councillor agreed to step in when her friend and colleague Mary Mears became ill and unable to take over as mayor of Brighton and Hove at a ceremony this month.

She was nominated by her group but, despite the council’s conventions on the politically neutral role of mayor, her appointment was blocked by the Greens and Labour.

The joint Labour opposition leader John Allcock said: “We were unsure of the appropriateness of someone with a track record of inflammatory public statements about ethnic minorities, the homeless and LGBTQ+ people becoming the first citizen of Brighton and Hove.”

Spacewords Brighton

Councillor Barnett, 80, has twice been cleared of breaching equalities rules by Brighton and Hove City Council standards panels in 2011 and 2013.

She said: “I’m not a racist just because I don’t want travellers in public parks and leaving a mess behind. It costs taxpayers’ money to clear up.

“There’s a perfectly good travellers site and it’s often got empty places. They should go there.

“I’m not homophobic. I don’t care whether someone’s gay, straight or whatever. It’s the kind of person they are that I care about.”

She said that sex and sexuality were private matters best kept to the bedroom.

Councillor Barnett said that she had lodged a complaint alleging that Councillor Allcock had breached the council’s rules on standards of behaviour.

She is understood to be unhappy about the simplistic distortion of her position on a number of issues, adding: “It’s not right to twist my words.

“I never said the homeless should be hosed down. I said that the square outside Brighton Town Hall should be pressure-washed because of the mess left behind there – and that’s the same for lots of places in Brighton.

“People pee and poo in the streets. It’s not fair that visitors and people who work here have to put up with it.

“At the moment Brighton is a dump. This is meant to be a town for tourists.”

Councillor Dawn Barnett

She said that she wanted those who were homeless to be housed but took issue with the council’s housing allocations policy, saying that the needs of the local population had been downgraded.

Councillor Barnett said: “They’re supposed to have a local link. We’ve got people coming down here from other towns and they’re getting housed when people who’ve lived here all their lives desperately need somewhere but they’re on the housing list for years.”

Labour councillors have also previously questioned how much effort is made to reconnect people when they are owed a “housing duty” by another council.

And Councillor Barnett added: “People don’t want to see people begging down Queen’s Road and North Street and loads of other places.

“Most of them aren’t homeless. A lot of them are just trying to get some money for their next fix.”

She has praised the work of charities such as Off the Fence and BHT Sussex, formerly known as Brighton Housing Trust, for their work with addicts and homeless people.

And she acknowledged that her political rivals did not like her plain-speaking approach, adding: “It’s common sense. They don’t like it because they know it’s what a lot of people think.”

The long-serving councillor for Hangleton and Knoll ward also disputed claims that her political opponents were not planning an “ambush”.

Labour said that they had tried to resolve the matter privately with the Tories – but some had qualms about the possibility of a contested mayor-making and at least one tipped her off.

Councillor Barnett said: “I don’t care whether someone’s black or white, pink or purple, gay or straight or whatever. I care whether they’re kind and decent.”

And she thanked those in her ward who had had kind words for her as the saga unfolded, adding: “I really ought to thank the Greens and Labour for all this free publicity they’ve given me a year before the elections.”

  1. Hove Guy Reply

    How ironic that the most antisemitic party in the country, with the connivance of the incompetent Greens, should accuse her of racism. Everything Cllr Barnett says makes sense, including the fact that this council has turned Brighton and Hove into a dump. She would make a great mayor, and such nastiness should not be allowed to prevent her from securing that position.

    • Andrew Reply

      Using antisetism as a weapon particularly when making lies about it for political gain is actually quite despicable. Anyway, we all know the right like the GOP and far right in Europe are literally bed fellows of the tories. Just google tories anti semitism and you see that this person is using the Jewish people as a tool and doesn’t actually care about antisemitism.

      • Hove Guy Reply

        Am not sure if you are referring to me when you write about “this person”, but if so, please let me assure you that I care passionately about antisemitism, which is why I was so appalled by the behaviour of the pro-Corbynites. I rejoiced and celebrated when their hero was prevented from becoming PM, but am very concerned at the evidence that such racism is still prevalent in the Labour party.

  2. punterpunter Reply

    glad to read she will “call-out” (a.k.a. make a formal complaint against) another councillor. let’s see in which room somethink is sitting on what elephant

  3. Nathan Adler Reply

    I thought it slightly suspect that Cllr Allcock should accuse Cllr Barnett who was already cleared by the councils own standards committee. I don’t agree with Cllr Barnetts political views but they should not prevent her from being mayor.

  4. Dave Reply

    I’m no tory voter but to be fair to her she calls it as she sees it. Labour and the greens don’t like it because she is actually correct. Begging in Brighton is out of control and the vast majority are not homeless, that is a fact and it’s not being dealt with on any level.

    Areas of Brighton and Hove are disgusting and Stink of urine, covered in graffiti, cycle lanes full of broken glass ect and these issues are never addressed. Businesses are fined for having a bin out yet the council have bins on double yellow lines, sticking out blocking traffic and encouraging fly tipping.

    The roads in this city are actually worse than kandahar air base, the real reason everyone drives 4x4s instead of cycling. The council is an utter joke.

    So let’s infer this councillor is a bigot because she actually points this stuff out. Truly gutter politics.

  5. Jon Reply

    Plain-speaking Dawn is lodging a complaint against Councillor Allcock for saying what he believes. 🙂

    • Len Reply

      His belief is not grounded in fact and it would have taken very little effort for him to have established that.

  6. Mike Beasley Reply

    For completeness, and to avoid any accusations of hypocrisy, we just need to know Allcock’s stance on anti-semitism within Labour(Momentum)

  7. Vespasian Reply

    A somewhat stupid move from the Greens and Labour, given that we have elections next year. We need councillors who will act in the best interests of the city as a whole, and not engage in dogma-driven childish vendettas

  8. Valerie Reply

    Poor EVERYONE!

    The city is in a mess WHOEVER is in power because the city income is inadequate to need because students do not pay council tax and they make up 20% of residents. Along with that, lots of pensioners, unemployed have council tax concessions due to low income. And on TOP of that, second home ownership & empty homes investment property attract no council tax of note.

    The ending of central govt grants was the coup de grace, killer punch, ending of ability for any political party to put the city on a pristine footing with all services doable instead of juggled.

    It means residents need to do more and treat the city like their own homes – the city is your home too!

    I am sick of party political bickering about things residents could take more responsibility for.

  9. Donna Tracey Reply

    “I’m not a racist” says woman who has a coronary every time gypsies park on St Helen’s Green for five minutes.
    Self awareness is clearly not Councillor Barnett’s strong suit.

    • Bel Reply

      You give yourself away, Donna Racist! They were Irish Travellers not Gypsies on St Helen’s Green. There’s a difference! And the group who occupied Greenleas more than once were also Irish Travellers, before Councillor Barnett’s lobbying led to measures making it harder for future illegal camps there.
      Her beef wasn’t their ethnicity or race tho (if you care to listen to her rather than just attack without checking your facts). Councillor Barnett’s complaints included the way their presence prevented aspects of community life from going on as normal, not least when there’s a proper site in Patcham, not far away, and it’s often got empty pitches.
      The noise and violence were also problems taken up by Councillor Barnett with the authorities, and as usual they did too little too late.
      Oh, and she also had a gripe about the mess they left (there’s a municipal tip just along the Old Shoreham Road they could have used if they were willing to show a modicum of awareness of the community Councillor Barnett serves so diligently).
      Perhaps, Donna Racist, self awareness is not your strong suit, along with your inability to check the facts.

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