‘Horrified’ councillor says his comments about people ‘crossing the channel in an open boat’ have been misinterpreted

A ‘horrified’ councillor says comments he made about people ‘crossing the channel in an open boat’ have been misinterpreted. Coun John Taylor says the ‘unacceptable’ remarks – made during a debate about a controversial housing scheme – highlighted objectors’ concerns, but did not represent his own views.

Proposals to build 200 homes at Mirrlees Fields, in Stockport, were ultimately rejected at a meeting of the council’s planning committee, to the delight of local campaigners. But Coun Taylor has been urged to explain his contribution to the discussion after he suggested the homes would not be occupied ‘by people crossing the channel in an open boat with a paddle’, but Stockport people who have jobs and pay taxes.

John Pearson, of Stockport United Against Austerity, asked for an explanation of his words – and their relevance – at the February meeting of the planning committee. “We hope that Coun Taylor’s sentiments are not shared by other members of the committee,” he said. “We fear that comments like this, in a publicly webcast meeting might continue to be made if they are not challenged by other people.”

READ MORE: Dozens of new flats could be built near historic town centre church

Mr Pearson said that a letter from his group – supported by Stockport Alliance for Equality and Stockport Stand Up to Racism – was sent to all members of the panel but only received one response. He asked whether it had been discussed and if a statement would be made ‘about this totally unacceptable behaviour by an elected member’.

Coun Taylor did not respond directly at the meeting, but told the Local Democracy Reporting Service his remarks had been misinterpreted and did not represent his own personal views.

“During a discussion at the December planning meeting, regarding an application for Mirrless Fields, I highlighted concerns that residents objecting to development raise,” the Labour member for Heatons North said. “Unfortunately, these have been interpreted as my views, which is not the case.

“During my time on the council, I am proud of my strong record in standing up for the most vulnerable in our society, and I am horrified to think that others could possibly imagine that I would not support asylum seekers and refugees in Stockport.”

At the meeting Coun Steve Gribbon, chair of the planning committee, said the concerns would be taken ‘seriously’ as all public questions are. “We are going to pass this forward to council officers for deliberation and someone will be in touch with you in due course,” he said.

Stockport council planning and highways committee met at the town hall on Thursday night (February 9).

For more of today’s top stories click here.


Manchester Evening News – Stockport