A Bengeo councillor has apologised after appearing to call a fellow councillor a "silly girl" during a recent meeting to vote on the council's budget.
The remark was made during a meeting of the full council whilst councillors were voting on the budget for the forthcoming financial year. Immediately following the vote of Cllr. Mary Brady a voice was heard to remark "you silly girl". A point of order was subsequently raised by Cllr. Joseph Dumont, with all three opposition parties - Labour, Liberal Democrat and Greens - later submitting formal compaints.
At an subsequent meeting of the council on Thursday 18th March, the chairman Jonathan Kaye read out a statement following an enquiry in to the remarks.
"At the meeting of the council held on the 2nd March 2021 during the recorded vote on the East Herts Budget, a remark was made by a councillor that was inadvertantly broadcast to the wider meeting. The comment of "you silly girl" made by Cllr. Michael McMullen immediately following Cllr. Mary Brady's abstention was not intended to be heard was nevertheless inappropriate, Cllr. McMulen acccepts that he shouldn't have made the comment irrespective of the circumstances or intention and wishes to offer an unreserved apology to Cllr. Mary Brady and to any others who were offended by the remark. Some equalities training is also being arranged for the end of the month which Cllr. McMullen will attend and any other members wishing to do so can also attend."
:: Jonathan Kaye, Chairman East Herts District Council
Following the statement Liberal Democrat Cllr. Mione Goldspink expressed her regret that Cllr. McMullen was unable to make the apology personally. However Cllr. Kay explained that the arrangement had been made between the two councillors involved together with the head of Legal & Democratic Services.
Conservative Cllr. McMullen is a longstanding member who represents the local ward of Bengeo Rural North.
Chair of the Hertford & Strortford Labour Party commented: "We were shocked to see this patronising and misogynistic comment directed at Labour Councillor Mary Brady by a Tory Councillor.
'It's wholly unacceptable behaviour from one elected representative to another. This is sadly representative of the wider problem of abuse and misogyny faced by women in elected office across the country.
'Hertford and Stortford CLP is committed to gender equality and promoting women's representation at all levels.
'We're glad that Councillor Brady has been offered a full apology by way of the Chair in a public meeting of East Herts District Council, and it is right that the guilty party attends some much needed equality training."
A spokesperson for East Herts Council said: "We take the requirement for all Members to treat each other with respect very seriously. We have reminded them all of the Members' Code of Conduct and have also provided equalities training."
Updated 25/3/21 to add that The Green Party also subitted a formal complaint.
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