‘Misogynistic name calling’ at council meeting

Jean Heywood, Councillor for Potters Bar Oakmere. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council

Jean Heywood, Councillor for Potters Bar Oakmere. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council - Credit: Archant

A Hertsmere borough councillor has said she is deeply upset after being called a “misogynistic” word by a fellow councillor at a full council meeting earlier this month.

In a heated meeting surrounding the appointment of mayor councillor Alan Plancey on November 18, Potters Bar Oakmere Councillor Jean Heywood was called a bitch shortly before the meeting was briefly adjourned.

During the meeting, when asked for formal nominations for the role of mayor, Potters Bar Furzefield Labour councillor Christian Gray said he could not vote for councillor Plancey in light of the “deeply problematic, homophobic language he used”.

However Cllr Gray was asked to refrain from making any further comments about Cllr Plancey, though Cllr Gray announced he would continue his speech, to which Cllr Heywood interrupted to call him a “disgrace”.

Bushey North councillor Jerry Evans “Can I suggest councillor Heywood is told to shut up as she has no right to speak right now.”

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Councillor Heywood responded: “I thought you was in the Lib Dems Cllr Evans,” after which someone on the video call said “bitch”.

Talking afterwards about the incident Cllr Heywood said to this paper: “This wholly inappropriate misogynistic name calling has upset me deeply. I am the longest standing elected member of Hertsmere Borough Council having served 24 years and I do not expect to hear such language in a meeting let alone directed at me by another councillor.”

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Borehamwood Brookmeadow councillor Glenn Briski contacted this paper believing it was councillor Chris Gray who used the profanity as “the meeting was held via Zoom which automatically changes to the active speaker when someone starts talking.”

A spokesperson for Hertsmere Labour said: “As it was obviously a male voice, immediately after the meeting I asked all male members of the Labour Group whether any were responsible for the remark in question. All denied being responsible, and I believe them as that is not the standard of behaviour we sink to.

“Also, both [Furzefield ward’s] Cllr Gray and Cllr [Chris] Myers have distinctive voices that I’m very familiar with and I didn’t recognise either in that voice.”

You can view the meeting here.

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