Councillor’s extreme views ignite a storm
An extraordinary protest has been staged in a Berwickshire village over the controversial chairman of its community council.
The scene was sparked by the resignation of community councillor Alison Hibbert, who said she could no longer be associated with Gregory Lauder-Frost, chairman of Foulden, Mordington and Lamberton Community Council.
At last Wednesday’s meeting, she said she had not taken the decision lightly as she had previously been chairwoman of the council and had enjoyed representing her area.
However, in a letter to the council, she stated: “My decision is solely due to my conscience over the political activities of the chairman, Gregory Lauder-Frost.”
Mr Lauder-Frost is vice president of the Traditional Britain Group and recently made national headlines because of his comments on ethnic minorities and women.
In particular, comments about Baroness Doreen Lawrence, mother of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, caused an outcry. He referred to her as “anti-English” and a “complete nobody”. He said people not of “European stock” should be offered “assisted voluntary repatriation” to their “natural” homeland.
Ms Hibbert stated: “He has regularly blogged for the Traditional Britain Group on such topics as women in the Church – denigrating their advancement within the Church – and matters of race, although I note he has not been as free with his opinions since appearing on BBC2’s Newsnight programme.
“His group has further marginalised itself from the Conservative Party as was seen by the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg publicly apologising for attending a dinner held by the Traditional Britain Group and feeling he then had to express his own opposition to their extreme views.
“Is it acceptable for our community council to be an embarrassment to its own community and the Scottish Borders?
“I have canvassed a considerable number of people within our local community and they have been shocked by Mr Lauder-Frost’s political activities and feel that they do not sit well with involvement in the community council.
“Since Mr Lauder-Frost is chairman of the community council, we as community councillors accept that he holds these views. My concern is that we ourselves are implicated in these views by association. My conscience is not clear with being associated with such overt racism and other extreme right-wing views. If we have a situation arising within our local jurisdiction I do not believe that Mr Lauder-Frost could be at all impartial.”
She continued: “I would ask other members of the community council to examine their conscience to ensure they are happy with their choice of chairman. Just because someone is willing to undertake a job, it doesn’t always follow that they are the right person for it.”
She was backed by former community councillor Susie Arnott who told Mr Lauder-Frost: “Some of the things you say publicly are then linked to our community because you are chair and that disturbs me.”
Villager Paula Baxter added that people were put off joining the council because of Mr Lauder-Frost’s chairmanship.
“Two community councillors have now resigned because of your chairmanship and I think that brings it into question,” she said.
“A number of people across the community want to be involved but won’t because you are the chair. It is off-putting that someone who looks so poorly on certain sections of the community chairs the council and sets the agendas.”
Another villager, Hugo Sanders, said he had come across Mr Lauder-Frost’s facebook page and was particularly shocked to see his views on South Africa.
“Among other things you say you would want South Africa to be the way it was before apartheid was ended. If you lived in South Africa in the Seventies for any length of time then you would take a different view.”
However Mr Lauder-Frost said his political views were nothing to do with his chairmanship.
“The community council is 100 per cent not political and I will continue to treat everyone totally equally whatever their race and creed,” he said. “That is my position and will always be my position. We all have views of things around the world and these are our own private views to which we are all entitled. It does not mean that we should be railroaded out of society because some sections of society do not like our views.
“If you can show that I have tried to exclude members of the community because of my political perspective then please do. If you feel I have not tried to look after every person in the community then bring it up.
“The situation is that if the community council wishes to ask me to stand down they are in a position to do that and if they ask me to stand down I will.”
However he was backed by other members of the council who said that if anyone wanted to stand against him they would have to do so after the next AGM next June.
Julia Trotter pointed out that the council had had a great deal of difficulty in finding a chairman.
“Where are those people that won’t come? Gregory does very well and takes a lot of flak from a lot of people. He has come in and was prepared to take over the chairmanship and nobody else would do that.”