A Conservative councillor who said Black History Month in Croydon should be scrapped has faced criticism from all sides this week.
In a debate about arts funding on Monday, Cllr Adam Kellett, who represents the Ashburton ward, described Black History Month as “a left-wing vanity project.”
“In my opinion, and I stand to be corrected by my colleagues, there are projects we could do without so much, like Black History Month.”
Conservative Council Leader Mike Fisher refused to back Cllr Kellet, adding that he and the the council did “not share Mr Kellett’s personal view.”
Meanwhile, Labour councillors have demanded that Cllr Kellett withdraw his comment and apologise.
Upper Norwood Councillor Alisa Flemming said: “We have just marked Armistice Day and we should not forget the many black men and women who died to protect our way of life. Surely the celebration of black history once a year is not too much to ask for?”
She added: “If these are the views of Cllr Kellett, can he really represent the black residents within his ward fairly and without bias?”
43% of Croydon’s population is from black or ethnic minority backgrounds.
Chief Executive of Croydon’s Black and Minority Ethnic Forum, Nero Ughwejabo, stressed that Black History Month is vital in bringing together all communities, and helping to create a “cohesive Croydon.”
“If you don’t have a specific time to celebrate Black History Month, no-one will find out about activities happening across communities. This is an event that bridges the gap between different people.”
He added that Black History Month was predominantly funded by voluntary organizations and charities.
“Croydon Council provides minimal funding to Black History Month.”
Conservative Party agent Ian Parker described Monday’s incident as a “non-story,” and would not be drawn on whether Cllr Kellett’s views represented those of his ward.
“Councillor Kellett said he stood to be corrected and he has been. Council leaders said that they didn’t share the opinion. He was expressing his personal views and the council’s policy hasn’t changed.”