July 31 2014 Latest news:
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Calls have been made for the county chief in charge of schools to resign after he was accused of condoning bullying.
The row was sparked by a Facebook post from Labour’s Mick Castle in which he said he would “happily bully” Tory leader Bill Borrett.
Mr Castle, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for schools, made the comment as part of a conversation about the authority’s budget, which was set by a narrow margin last week after Tory members voted against it.
He said it was a “light hearted” comment but Tory councillor Tom Garrod has slammed the statement and believes Mr Castle should resign from his cabinet member position.
Mr Garrod said: “As a strategic leader he should lead by example and I don’t think that’s a very good example. As somebody who grew up with cerebral palsy I got a fair bit of stick and I found his comment absolutely abhorrent.
“I would like to think the guy in charge of children’s services lives and breathes anti-bullying, but obviously not.
“If he’s of that attitude, how can he lead a portfolio whose policies include bullying in schools?
“And if he can’t do that he should resign.”
Mr Garrod said friends had also expressed concern over Mr Castle’s comment, after he shared it on his Facebook page, and he would be raising it at next week’s county council cabinet meeting.
He plans to ask county council leader George Nobbs whether he will agree to “terminate” Mr Castle’s position in the cabinet.
But Mr Castle, who is also a councillor on Great Yarmouth Borough Council, and chairs its development control meetings, hit back at the accusation and confirmed he would be leaving the comment online.
“It was a light hearted comment,” he added.
“If he [Mr Garrod] can’t see the humour in that comment I don’t want to make more of a meal of it than he’s already making.”
Mr Castle said he made the statement in the context of a previous conversation, which played out when he appeared on BBC Radio Norfolk when the budget was set last week.
He said: “It was really because someone had said I was bullying [county councillor] Alex Kemp on Radio Norfolk that week, and that’s the context.
“I won’t be taking it off Facebook because there wasn’t any malicious intent. It would almost be like giving credence to what he [Mr Garrod] is saying.”
Mr Castle added that he did not intend to resign “any time soon”.
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