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Solihull Cabinet member for housing suspended following Twitter comment on Grenfell protest

Solihull Cabinet member for housing suspended following Twitter comment on Grenfell protest

🕔19.Jun 2017

Solihull Council has suspended its Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration following remarks he made on Twitter on Friday night.

Quoting a Tweet from a Guardian journalist reporting on protests at Kensington Town Hall on Friday afternoon, Cllr Ken Hawkins tweeted:

Lets get ourselves a hangin!


Today, Cllr Bob Sleigh, Leader of Solhull Council, has suspended his Conservative colleague from the Cabinet, following a formal complaint, pending an investigation.

A statement from the Council said:

A formal complaint about the social media activity of Cabinet Member, Cllr Ken Hawkins has been received. An investigation will now take place, led by the Council’s Monitoring Officer. This will be in line with the Council’s standards procedures, and will be reported to the Governance Committee.

Cllr Hawkins has been suspended from his Cabinet Member position for the Environment, Housing and Regeneration. Cllr Bob Sleigh OBE, Leader of the Council, will be taking responsibility in the short term for these areas.

Cllr Hawkins’ Twitter feed is locked.

Chamberlain Files emailed Cllr Hawkins yesterday seeking an explanation of his Tweet and comment from the councillor. At the time of writing, we have not received a reply.

Cllr James Burn, leader of the Green opposition group on Solihull Council, told Chamberlain Files:

The Grenfell fire has shocked the nation, and is especially worrying for residents of the 18 high rise tower blocks in my ward of Chelmsley Wood, particularly given the fire in one of those blocks, Cheshunt House, just a few weeks ago (which was thankfully promptly extinguished by the fire service).

I share this worry, and the demands for answers and action from the residents of Grenfell. I simply can’t imagine what it must have been like to be in that tower block, and we absolutely must understand why it happened and what we can do so it never happens again.

I am very troubled by the remarks made by the Conservative Councillor in charge of housing here in Solihull to those demanding justice, including calling one person who challenged him on his remarks a “twat” on social media.

We have encouraged Solihull Council and their housing organisation to work with the fire service to look again at using reserves to fund sprinklers, to review the “stay put” policy and access for fire engines to high rise blocks. And in general, we need to question government policies that have threatened adequate investment in housing and our fire services.

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