Black parish councillor resigns after being ‘vilified, intimidated and publicly chastised’ by fellow councillors
- Credit: Judeline Nicholas
A black parish councillor has resigned after claiming she has been “vilified, intimidated and publicly chastised” by fellow councillors because of her race.
Judeline Nicholas has quit Mundesley Parish Council after saying she had not been treated fairly by colleagues in “positions of white privilege”.
Ms Nicholas, 61, who runs a business consultancy, told a meeting on Monday she had undergone extra training at personal expense upon joining the council in 2019, but when she tried to tell counterparts about the impact of casual and institutional racism she had little response - other than “vicious verbal abuse from a member of the public”.
In her statement to the meeting, which was being held virtually, she said: “On previous occasions I’ve been vilified, intimidated and publicly chastised for alleged actions that my fellow councillors have done themselves and who should’ve also been held to account by the chair.
“Nothing was done even though at least one councillor raised an objection.
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“The chair has informed me that I am not liked by any of my fellow councillors because they don’t like my tone.
“Let me put that in context - I a woman of colour am not liked by my fellow councillors, who are all white, because of my tone, this gives testament that my colleagues in their positions of white privilege not used to being questioned on issues of transparency, good practice and fairness by a fairly successful professional woman of colour, who holds a position of equity to them as a councillor.”
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She claimed her views had been ignored on a number of decisions made by the council, including some relevant to her field of work.
“The conscious and not so conscious bias of my fellow councillors prevented them from hearing the advice of a professional in her field of expertise including employment practices, even the opportunity to learn and develop their own knowledge was fought against, even when NNDC members admitted their own lack of knowledge,” she said.
She also said phrases used by council chairman, David Harding, including “gone native”, were racist. She said it was “colonial insult to people of colour”.
In response, Mr Harding said he had been forced to “beg” other councillors not to resign as Ms Nicholas “constantly tried to pick fault” with their actions.
On the allegations of racist phrases, he said: “You said the chair made a reference to ‘gone native’, I have not used that phrase and secondly if you choose to think that people do not like you because of your colour, you are ignoring all the other reasons why they may not be happy with your behaviour at the meetings.”
He added that he was reading a Thomas Hardy book called Return of the Native and said it was a “perfectly legitimate phrase” before adding: “I will now hand over to the clerk, who you may have noticed is mixed race”.
Ms Nicholas had also claimed that she had approached a North Norfolk district councillor to help “mediate” the situation at the council, but claimed they had responded by saying they were biased in favour of the parish council.
Mundesley District councillor Wendy Fredericks, interrupted Ms Nicholas during her statement to say she had been “insulted” by her comments, claiming they were in reference to her.
She said: “You’ve insulted me, and you’ve insulted everybody else on this council calling us racist. I did not ever claim I was biased towards MPC or yourself in an email, I will not have that”.
The clerk of the parish council, Doreen Joy, told the meeting that usual procedure was for claims made against members to be reported to a monitoring officer, saying Ms Nicholas’s comments were not appropriate for the meeting.
When Ms Nicholas asked to finish what she was saying, Mr Harding told her: “You have had quite long enough to address this meeting, and we’ve had enough of it quite frankly.”
Ms Nicholas tendered her resignation on Tuesday morning.
In a message seen by this paper, she said: “I see now that my position is untenable and I therefore offer my resignation.
“My apologies to the people of Mundesley who deserve the best and are being denied it.”
The clerk confirmed that Ms Nicholas’ resignation had been accepted by the council.