The charmless Boston Borough Councillor Derek Richmond is never slow to speak his tiny mind.
Councillor Richmond is already the stuff of democratic legend for his feeble argument that charging Blue Badge holders to park would end disability discrimination by giving them equality with everyone else that is forced to pay.
More recently, he tried to blame the disabled for a fall in car parking revenue – one of the few “genuine” sources of income for the council – because their protests delayed the implementation of the new fees.
As the portfolio holder for the town centre, he has sat by while the Market Place “improvements” have turned the place into a chaotic wilderness where drivers park willy-nilly and where nothing of interest ever happens.
Until recently, his portfolio also included Boston BID, which made such an impact that local businesses voted it out of existence.
And neither has his custodianship of the town’s toilets been flushed with success.
Now, is seems that assaulting the freedom of the disabled and local traders simply hasn’t been enough.
The Boston Standard tells us that Councillor Richmond told one of its reporters that he had taken an exception to the comments by its Observer columnist.
“You want to sort your Observer column out,” he is reported as saying.
“We know who he is, he’ll get a knock on his door one day.
“When has he supported us? He never supports anything we do.
“He’s going to get a knock one day.”
Questioned further for his views Councillor Richmond told the Standard: “I don’t think it’s a balanced opinion. Justified criticism I’ve got no problem with, but it is not that.”
He wrongly accused Observer of being a “paid up member of the Labour party” and said his columns were “ill informed” and often incorrect, but did not to offer examples.
History is littered with intrusions by political regimes which disliked the coverage they received from the press – and the “knock on the door” often ended in terrifying consequences.
Perhaps mindful of how reckless and menacing his stupid comments sounded, Councillor Richmond “clarified” his remarks a few hours later.
“By a ‘knock on the door’ I meant that even though Observer hides behind a pseudonym I know who he is, and may knock on his door so that he can have an adult face-to-face conversation with me in order that we can sensibly discuss some of the issues which concern him, I would welcome a meeting with Observer at any time as I do with any other member of the public.”
The day that Councillor Richmond has an adult conversation with anyone will be cause for celebration, as in the past, his rapport with the public that elected him has been less than satisfactory.
Boston Eye was once on the receiving end of similar sentiments from a senior councillor to those received by the Standard’s columnist, which included the phrase “Be careful what you write…”
We are sure that no-one will swallow Councillor Richmond’s blustering attempt to backtrack.
Not for the first time, he has shot from the lip and had cause to regret is. What we regret is that such people are in positions of so-called authority and feel confident enough to behave in such a churlish manner.
Boston Borough Council’s leaders are by and large deservedly criticised, and simply because they now issue a daily hymn sheet singing their praises does nothing to change that.
The problem is a leadership that will not listen to criticism.
Perhaps if he wishes to change public perceptions, Councillor Richmond could branch out into social networking.
Come to think of it, he could be the “Twit” in Twitter.
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