Black Norfolk parish councillor quits, claiming she was 'vilified'

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Black parish councillor in Norfolk village quits after claiming she was 'vilified, intimidated and publicly chastised' by colleagues because of her race

Judeline Nicholas, 61, resigned yesterday after a meeting of Mundesley council Ms Nicolas hit out at councillors 'in positions of white privilege' for targeting her The Zoom call erupted into a row when members refuted her allegations

By Jack Elsom For Mailonline

Published: 13:15 GMT, 28 October 2020 | Updated: 13:35 GMT, 28 October 2020

A black parish councillor has dramatically quit after claiming her colleagues 'vilified, intimidated and publicly chastised' her because of her race.

Judeline Nicholas, 61, resigned yesterday following an extraordinary meeting where she hit out at councillors 'in positions of white privilege' for targeting her. 

The Zoom call of Mundesley Parish Council, Norfolk, blew up into a row when members refuted her allegations and tried to cut her off.   

Chairman David Harding denied he had said 'gone native' but then said he had recently read Thomas Hardy's Return Of The Native and it was a 'perfectly legitimate phrase'. 

The spat emerged when Ms Nicolas, who runs a business consultancy in the seaside village, raised grievances about the 'impact of casual and institutional racism'.

Judeline Nicholas, 61, resigned yesterday following an extraordinary meeting where she hit out at councillors 'in positions of white privilege' for targeting her

The Zoom call of Mundesley Parish Council, Norfolk, blew up into a row when members refuted her allegations and tried to cut her off

In a statement to the virtual Monday meeting, she said: 'On previous occasions I've been vilified, intimidated and publicly chastised for alleged actions that my fellow councillors have done themselves and who should have also been held to account by the chair.

'Nothing was done even though at least one councillor raised an objection. The chair has informed me that I am not liked by any of my fellow councillors because they don't like my tone.

'Let me put that in context. I, a woman of colour, am not liked by my fellow councillors, who are all white, because of my tone.

'This gives testament that my colleagues in their positions of white privilege not used to being questioned on issues of transparency, good practice and fairness by a fairly successful professional woman of colour, who holds a position of equity to them as a councillor.'

She alleged that her opinions had been 'ignored on a number of decisions made by the council' including some relevant to her field of work and blamed this on 'conscious and not so conscious bias of my fellow councillors'.       

District councillor Wendy Fredericks (left) and parish council chairman David Harding (right) both refuted claims made by Ms Nicholas

Ms Nicolas said she had approached a North Norfolk district councillor to 'help mediate the situation' at parish council level but she said they were biased in favour of the parish council.

Wendy Fredericks, who represents Mundesley on the district council, then interrupted to say she had been 'insulted' by her comments, claiming they were in reference to her.

Ms Fredericks said: 'You've insulted me, and you've insulted everybody else on this council calling us racist. I did not ever claim I was biased towards Mundesley parish council or yourself in an email, I will not have that.'

The chairman Mr Harding said he had been forced to 'beg' other councillors not to resign as Ms Nicholas 'constantly tried to pick fault' with their actions.

Ms Nicholas had also levelled charges against Mr Harding for using the phrase 'gone native' which she said was a 'colonial insult to people of colour'. 

Ms Nicholas quit on Tuesday morning, issuing a statment saying 'I see now that my position is untenable and I therefore offer my resignation

On the allegations of racist phrases, he said 'You said the chair made a reference to 'gone native'.

'I have not used that phrase and secondly if you choose to think that people do not like you because of your colour, you are ignoring all the other reasons why they may not be happy with your behaviour at the meetings.'

He said he had been reading the Thomas Hardy novel called Return of the Native and it was 'a perfectly legitimate phrase'.

Mr Harding told the meeting 'I will now hand over to the clerk, who you may have noticed is mixed race.'

Clerk Doreen Joy told members that the usual procedure was for claims made against councillors to be reported to a monitoring officer, saying Ms Nicholas's comments were 'not appropriate for the meeting'.

When Ms Nicholas asked to finish what she was saying, Mr Harding told her: 'You have had quite long enough to address this meeting, and we've had enough of it quite frankly.'

Ms Nicholas quit on Tuesday morning, issuing a statment saying 'I see now that my position is untenable and I therefore offer my resignation.

'My apologies to the people of Mundesley who deserve the best and are being denied it.'

The clerk confirmed the resignation had been accepted by the council.

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