‘Councils resemble Taliban’: fresh outburst as councillor who called coronavirus ‘a con’ quits

Nigel Utton has resigned as Norwich city councillor. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Nigel Utton has resigned as Norwich city councillor. Picture: Ruth Lawes - Credit: Archant

A councillor who sparked complaints when he said coronavirus was “the biggest con in history” has resigned from Norwich City Council.

But Nigel Utton, a former Green councillor who became an independent after leaving the group, said he stood by his comments and had attended the anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square at the weekend.

Mr Utton, elected to represent the Thorpe Hamlet ward in May last year, said in his resignation letter to the council that the coronavirus lockdown had destroyed his osteopathy clinic in Norwich.

He said that had forced him to move out of the city, so felt he could no longer serve the ward he represented as he could no longer meet residents on a daily basis.

The former headteacher said: “I took my role very seriously and am proud of the efforts I have made to improve the lives of the people of my ward: notably the residents of Recorder Road and the Greek Orthodox Church; the defence of the trees in Norwich School leading the headteacher and his team to reconsider the environmental impact of their plans and various other smaller ways in which I have supported residents individually.”

But he said his “proudest moment” was being able to “call out” the government and the council on what he described as the “unnecessary and disproportionate response to the health situation in respect of SarsCov2 and Covid-19”.

He said: “The infringements to our personal liberty have been wholly disproportionate to the threat posed by Covid-19. My speech did result in six complaints to the council – but my inbox and social media was flooded with messages of support from people all over the globe who have seen through the ‘con’ which is being propagandised to take away our basic freedoms.”

Discussing his attendance at the weekend’s Unite For Freedom rally, he said: “I was at a rally of 40,000 people in Trafalgar Square on Saturday where we heard speakers including doctors, surgeons and nurses who have lost their jobs for speaking truth to power over the various lies and misinformation which has led to a remarkable, sinister transformation in our society.

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“Walking the streets of Norwich currently resembles a dystopian scene from The Handmaid’s Tale. Norwich, and indeed the whole world, will have to literally pay the price of the lockdown – which has been funded by the banks who will make a killing from requiring us to repay their loans with massive interest.

“I foresee businesses struggling to cope with the significant losses in income which will have profound social consequences including mass unemployment.”

In his resignation letter he said: “I wish the council well in providing support for the criminal social damage directly caused by the lockdown and urge you to reconsider your total compliance with the ridiculous measures that you have introduced.

“Councils up and down the country now resemble the Taliban with its arbitrary and draconian rules in banning singing and social gatherings; pointless mask wearing; directional arrows on pavements, shops, carparks and pubs and anti-social distancing.

“Although I am stepping down from my political office I will continue to campaign for a return to human civilisation so expect me to be a thorn in the side of any measures which curtail personal or medical freedom or contribute to the destruction of our ability to earn an honest living.”

When Mr Utton described Covid-19 as a “little virus” which was “the biggest con in history” during a virtual council meeting in June, it sparked anger from fellow councillors.Labour’s Beth Jones, who works as a nurse, said what he claimed was a “kick in the teeth” for her NHS colleagues.

And Sandra Bogelein, leader of the Green group, said: “His stance on Covid-19 is as dangerous as it is wrong.”

His resignation will not lead to a by-election now - that will be timed to coincide with the city council elections due in May next year.

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