Complaints have been received by East Herts Council after an unguarded comment made by a Conservative councillor during a recent vote on the council's budget.
The remark was made during a Zoom meeting of the full council on Tuesday 2nd March, when the 46 councillors were asked to verbally cast their votes one by one. When Cllr. Mary Brady voted to abstain, another member was clearly heard to say "you silly girl".
Following the vote, Liberal Democrat councillor Joseph Dumont called out the remark, saying: "Mr Chairman, just on a point of order, there was a comment ... I think, 'silly girl' ... I don't know if that was directed at the meeting, after I think Councillor Brady spoke. I think we all heard it but I hope it wasn't directed at the meeting. I don't know who said it but I'll ask them to withdraw the comment. As someone votes I think that's very inappropriate."
Chairman Jonathan Kaye responed: "The thing is when we unmute ourselves there are other thgings going on in the background and other people, we don't know if it's relating to the meeting or not, but I take your point Councillor Dumont."
Councillor Brady, who represents Hertford's Sele Ward, was unphased by the remark, commenting: "Thank you, Cllr Dumont, I'm sure it wasn't directed at me. It would be lovely to be called a girl."
Both the local Labour and Liberal Democrat parties have written to the council to complain about the remark.
Chair of the Hertford & Stortford Labour Party, Josh Dean, said: "We’re extremely disappointed to see this kind of patronising and misogynistic behaviour in the Council chamber. It’s entirely unacceptable behaviour from one elected representative to another - and the Tory Councillor in question would do well to remember that it goes against the code of conduct he signed up to when elected. Labour has put in a complaint with democratic services and we hope East Herts will investigate, and that Councillor Brady will receive a full apology."
A report in the Bishop's Stortford Independent names Cllr. Michael McMullen as the member who made the remark. Cllr. McMullen represents Hertford Rural North.
A spokesperson for the council said: "Our monitoring officer is considering this matter in line with our member complaints procedure.
"We take the requirement for all members to treat each other with respect very seriously and will be reminding them all of the members’ code of conduct."
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