‘Apology over homophobia is not enough’

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A DISTRICT councillor at the centre of a homophobia row has received an apology letter from the leader at Aylesbury Vale District Council – but says heads should roll.

Councillor Steven Lambert, who leads the opposition Liberal Democrat group, has called for the leader and the chief executive to be removed over an alleged nickname used by four Conservative councillors.

He contacted police after a Tory insider passed on a document alleging Mr Lambert, who is gay, had been referred to as ‘Lily’ on four separate occasions since last year’s May elections.

Last week all Liberal Democrat members at Aylesbury Vale District Council, as well as their Labour and UKIP counterparts, sported pink anti-homophobia badges at a crunch budget meeting.

The badges, declaring Homophobia Is Gay, were worn to a full council meeting on Wednesday.

Since the Bucks Herald broke news of the allegations last month, Mr Lambert has received a letter from Councillor John Cartwright, leader of AVDC, stating: “May I apologise for any such remarks which may have been made by any member of the Conservative group.

“Should you wish to let me have details of those occasions, I will of course investigate matters further.”

And the letter asked Mr Lambert to accept ‘my sincere and genuine apologies for the issues which you have found so upsetting’.

But the Liberal Democrat leader said he was far from impressed.

He said: “What I’ve got isn’t an apology, it’s insulting.

“I’m so angry, and my group is livid.”

He said he had contacted the Local Government Association, calling for Mr Cartwright and AVDC chief executive Andrew Grant to be removed.

Mr Lambert met senior AVDC officers, alongside Superintendant George Wrigley, to discuss the allegations.

He praised police, but said he felt ‘let down’ by AVDC.

A statement from AVDC after the meeting said: “It was a private meeting and we have no further comment to make on the matter.”

The alleged remarks were made during Conservative group meetings, and at last year’s election count at the Waterside Theatre.

All four councillors reported to the police deny the allegation.