Members of the public have voted overwhelmingly for a Labour councillor to step down after an old storm around a foul-mouthed social media post flared up again.
The day after the UK voted to exit the European Union in 2016, Aycliffe Labour councillor Kathy Beetham published a vile tirade against anyone who voted Leave – insisting they’re all “racists who should be gassed”.
But now the public has told her to leave the council chamber as – despite the initial incident happening three years ago, less than 12 months before she was elected to the council – nearly 85% of people said she should step down in an independent poll on Facebook.
Posting under her Facebook alias ‘Lilith Mooney’, which she claims to be her Pagan name, Cllr Beetham said in June 2016: “If you voted leave, just fu*k right off and wallow in the decades of the sh*t storm you have just created for yourselves and the rest of us.
“You’re all fu*king racist idiot scum and deserve all you get, I hope you get gassed first.
“Take your country back, its fu*king worth jack shit now morons.”
The post had gone largely under the radar until it resurfaced again recently when Aycliffe resident Ian Snowball – who had screenshot the original post before it was deleted – re-posted it to the Aycliffe Residents Point of View Facebook page.
Mr Snowball received a mixed response from the post, with many claiming Cllr Beetham should step down.
Others have said the post is now irrelevant due to the time since posting it, with some of her council colleagues – including Labour’s John Clare and independent Ken Robson – leaping to her defence.
But a public poll, on the same Facebook page, is unequivocal – with 84.9% saying Cllr Beetham should resign, and just 12.2% saying she shouldn’t (2.9% said they didn’t know).
Cllr Beetham declined the opportunity to comment, although she was recently quoted as saying she hoped she would be judged on her record as a councillor.
“I think a lot of people thought I said Brexitors should be gassed, but I said I hoped they’re ‘gassed first’ because of my concerns about a rise in hate crime and a rise in the far right,” said Cllr Beetham in her bizarre defence.
“When it was first referred to I responded with a public apology to anyone who was offended by it – an apology I also repeated on social media.”
Cllr Beetham was elected to Great Aycliffe Town Council less than a year after her vile outburst – meaning the majority of people who voted for her would have been unaware of her offensive post, some of whom she would have been referring to in it.
“I cannot constantly apologise for, or change, a post I made three years ago before I stood for public office,” she said. “I’d like to draw a line under it once and for all.”
Cllr Beetham added: “I hope my record as a town councillor for the last two years and my achievements regarding successfully fighting to get the rainbow flag flown in Aycliffe, bee hives on the allotments, progress towards gender balance on the Great Aycliffe Town Council and my recent proposal to reduce the use of single use plastic is the record I should be judged on.”