Boston

Boston councillors call for mayor’s resignation over offensive comments

Councillors on Boston Borough Council have called for the town’s mayor to resign over alleged offensive and anti-Muslim posts on Facebook.

The council gave its support by a margin of 21 to two to a motion proposed by leader Michael Cooper asking for Councillor Brian Rush’s resignation at an extraordinary meeting of the full council on Monday, February 12, which saw several members of the public also attend, many of whom support the mayor and were angered by the decision.

Councillor Brian Rush, who represents the Staniland ward, became the 483rd mayor of the town in May 2017.

Lincolnshire Reporter understands that comments on Councillor Rush’s Facebook page saw him allegedly refer to some fellow councillors as “a bunch of muppets” and the town’s MP Matt Warman as someone who “wasn’t fit to clean the toilets”.

He is accused of making anti-Muslim comments on social media, believed to be from 2016.

Lincolnshire Reporter has not seen the posts directly as they are no longer publicly visible on Facebook.

Councillor Rush denied making the comments and said he will not be stepping down.

He received plenty of support from the public present, who said the whole motion was “disgusting”.

The motion is not binding, meaning he can remain in post as mayor for the rest of his one-year term.

However, Councillor Richard Austin added an amendment calling for all administrative support for his activities as mayor to be withdrawn. This was also supported by councillors.

Conservative councillors Aaron Spencer, who was one of five councillors who initially signed the motion, Michael Brookes and Jonathan Noble all said that they considered Councillor Rush as a personal friend, but said he had not been apolitical as mayor.

Labour councillor Paul Gleeson said: “What he’s doing is putting at risk the system of an apolitical mayor. There was a very tasteless anti-Muslim post.

“We cannot have a mayor slandering councillors.”

Councillor Alison Austin, an Independent, said the comments were an “underhand, covert form of bullying,” saying he had “demeaned the office of mayor”.

However, UKIP member Councillor Anton Dani spoke in favour of the mayor, saying he treated Councillor Rush like a dad. He said: “Councillor Rush has never been a racist person.”

Deputy mayor Councillor Barrie Pierpoint gave a passionate defence of Councillor Rush, turning fire on councillors for handling the issue “most unprofessionally”.

He added that the motion had wasted people’s time and demeaned the council, claiming it was a personal attack on the mayor.

The motion in full

“That this council is deeply concerned with the actions of the mayor in posting offensive and political comments on his Facebook page.

“The council believes the mayor should reflect carefully on the words he has used. He has caused significant personal distress to those named and demeaned the great office that is The Worshipful the Mayor of Boston.

“The mayor who is the 483rd person to hold this position of historic office, has sullied the role of first citizen and champion of the borough with petty, political point scoring that is factually incorrect.

“This council calls for the mayor’s resignation with immediate effect.”