‘Mummy and daddy’ jibe at Lancaster councillor, 19

Coun Andrew Gardiner.
Coun Andrew Gardiner.
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A Tory councillor was warned after a “mummy and daddy” rant at a teenage Labour rival.

Coun Andrew Gardiner was told he’d “crossed the line” with a tirade at 19-year-old Lucy Atkinson, the youngest elected councillor in the UK.

Coun Lucy Atkinson.

Coun Lucy Atkinson.

Coun Gardiner told Coun Atkinson, a Lancaster University student, that “mummy and daddy looks after you at the moment”.

His comments came during a debate at Morecambe Town Hall where Labour councillors called for a council tax relief scheme to continue in 2016/17 to help needy people.

The row broke out after Coun Gardiner, who represents Overton, made a remark about a public fireworks display in Morecambe that is not going ahead.

Coun Atkinson said: “People’s lives are more important than a fireworks display.

“A lot of our residents will be hit hard by tax credit cuts. We don’t want to make a bad situation worse.”

Coun Gardiner tore into his Labour rival in response with an angry outburst across the town hall chamber.

“You think you’re funny, don’t you?

“I had to sleep on a floor because of a Labour government.

“It’s not about being nice, it’s about being fair to everybody.

“When you have experience of laying off people from your own business, then you’ll learn, then you can stand up and talk. Mummy and daddy looks after you at the moment.”

Coun Jon Barry, mayor of Lancaster who was chairing the meeting, told Coun Gardiner to be “more diplomatic”.

“There is a line,” said Coun Barry. “I think you have just crossed it.”

Coun Gardiner then said: “We are raising the national Living Wage to give people a better living. We believe in supporting hard-working people. Everybody should pay their share.”

Later, Coun Charles Edwards, a Conservative, defended Coun Atkinson.

He said: “I’d like to disassociate myself from my colleague’s comments. I don’t think we need personal to get in the way of what we do politically.”

After the meeting, Coun Atkinson said: “I don’t think Coun Gardiner likes me.

“It was quite rude and patronising to say that just because of my age that my mummy and daddy look after me, when in reality they don’t give me a penny.

“He has no idea about my family background. I have every right to be there.”

Coun Gardiner said afterwards: “It wasn’t personal. The political arena is not a nice game, it’s a messy game. You take what’s said on the chin.

“There was no malice. If somebody wants to stick their head above the parapet they are there to be shot at, the same as if somebody wants to have a go at me.”

The majority of councillors voted in favour of keeping their council tax relief scheme in 2016/17 at the Lancaster City Council meeting on Wednesday.

Skerton East Labour councillor, Janet Hall, who moved the motion, said: “I am proud that we are one of the few councils to have continued to provide this support despite the national cuts by the previous Tory/Liberal Democrat Government.

“This is vital help for our working poor - people who work hard but are on low pay - and we have seen in-work poverty increase in recent years as wages have failed to keep pace with the cost of living.

“Now more than ever this support is needed on the back of the Tory Government’s new cuts to working tax credits which previously provided much needed support to families in this situation.

“I don’t want any family in this district to have to choose between heating and eating.”

Coun Peter Williamson, leader of the Conservatives, voted against the motion with the majority of Tories.

He said: “I’ve heard the usual arguments that people in poverty shouldn’t have to pay anything towards council services. But what keeps people in poverty is more complex than whether you keep £1 or take £1 off them.

“We’re not talking about pensioners, the disabled or vulnerable groups. 66% of those people of working age in Lancaster, are in work. Everybody should pay a bit.”

Two Conservative councillors, Charles Edwards and Brett Cooper, both from Bare, voted for the motion.

Coun Edwards said: “This gives us the opportunity to say we’re not nasty Tories or wasteful Labour, we as a council are putting money back into the pockets of people who matter. I’d like to support it.” This led to a round of applause from the chamber, including members of rival parties.