The next mayor of High Wycombe has apologised “sincerely and unreservedly” after joking a cull should be carried out on the travelling community last week.
Independent councillor, Brian Pearce, sparked outrage when he condemned the behaviour of the nomadic community as “not human” and compared them to chickens after a group of caravans moved into the former Wycombe Sports Centre site on April 11.
At the time the “hate filled” comments were slammed by national campaign group Gypsy and Traveller Empowerment, Herts, for “inciting racial hatred”.
Cllr Pearce has now issued a public apology for the controversial comments, admitting his choice of words were “in poor taste and exceedingly foolish”.
He said: “Further to my comments last week regarding travellers and the relevant situation in Bucks I would very much like to apologise sincerely and unreservedly for utilising the term cull.
“The actual comment was in fact spoken entirely in jest although in hindsight, I fully appreciate that it was in highly poor taste and was exceedingly foolish.
“I would therefore like to take this opportunity, if I may, to express my deepest apologies for using the term and furthermore for any offence that my ill-advised comments may have caused.
“May I add for the record also that the phrase ‘not human’ was misunderstood, in fact I was referring to the decidedly inhumane and deplorable manner in which some travellers treat their animals.
“Over the years in my capacity as a councillor for the local area I have had many dealings with travellers, particularly in relation to the gross mistreatment of their animals as has been reported to myself on numerous occasions by members of the public.”
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Cllr Pearce, who represents Booker and Cressex on Wycombe District Council, went on to say he knows of “dozens of instances” where travellers have engaged in “multiple acts of lawbreaking” and caused “utter chaos”, leaving tons of rubbish after they leave.
Last August travellers caused a stir in High Wycombe after around 15 to 20 caravans moved into Totteridge Lane for a week, leaving behind human faeces and rubbish.
And in 2015 Marlow Town Council were forced to spend £900 of taxpayer’s money on a clean-up operation when travellers left a "trail of destruction" on Seymour Court Recreation Ground.
Cllr Pearce continued: “Having said all of the above there are of course many decent and well-kept gypsy static sites – two predominantly springing to mind, namely Flackwell Heath and Stokenchurch.
“I know from personal experience that in the past traditional Romany gypsies were always welcomed into the community as they offered much needed help on farms and supplied many traditional goods which they sold generously to the local people.”
The councillor is set to take the mayoral chains from current mayor of High Wycombe, cllr Zia Ahmed, at the traditional mayor making ceremony in May.