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Stonehaven councillor faces £10k pay cut as top job at risk over ‘totally inappropriate’ Travellers comments

Conservative councillor Wendy Agnew will face a vote of no confidence next week after making potentially "harmful and offensive" comments at a recent meeting.

Wendy Agnew and the said travellers' caravan park at Portlethen.
The Conservative councillor has been slated for her controversial remarks about travellers. Picture shows; Wendy Agnew and caravan park at Portlethen. Aberdeenshire. Supplied by Kenny Elrick / DC Thomson; Aberdeenshire Council Date; Unknown

A veteran Stonehaven councilor could be stripped off her top role following a string of controversial remarks about Travellers.

Conservative Wendy Agnew is facing a backlash after she insinuated “gypsies are not British people” at the latest Kincardine and Mearns area committee meeting.

The heated argument arose as councillors considered proposals for a permanent caravan park in Portlethen.

The talks descended into turmoil, with council legal advisors forced to interject.

And Aberdeenshire Council has since censored the public recording of the meeting to “avoid potential offence to viewers”.

Travellers' caravan park at Findon Park, Hillside, in Portlethen.
Said caravan park is located at Findon Park, Hillside, in Portlethen. Image: Aberdeenshire Council.

The eight-minute dispute has been completely redacted from the Youtube video amid fears it “could lead to harm and offence in a protected community”.

But a transcript of the meeting – exclusively seen by The P&J – lifts the lid on the “totally inappropriate” dialogue which could now cost Mrs Agnew her job as chairwoman of the committee.

What went on in the meeting?

The question of “equality” was raised as the councillor railed against the applicants for submitting their plans retrospectively – with the caravans already in place at Findon Park.

Despite being told this would not be grounds to oppose the proposal, she argued that it could indicate a willingness to flout the rules.

Councillor Wendy Agnew insisted she hasn’t said anything wrong, despite colleagues’ concerns. Image: Colin Rennie/DC Thomson.

She said: “If they’re ignoring this, they may ignore other things. That’s my problem.”

Fellow councillors immediately expressed reservations, urging Mrs Agnew to retract her controversial statements several times.

However, Mrs Agnew insisted that her words be put on the record regardless.

It is proposed to create five caravan pitches, each with an associated shed, and a separate domestic kennel block, within an extended parking. Image: Aberdeenshire Council.

She added: “I don’t want to refute it. Anything could happen there. That’s all. It’s slightly worrying to me.

“And I’m not saying it’s just because they’re gypsies. It would be the same if they were British people. I’d be worried about this massive site. That’s all.”

Top councillor’s role under threat following ‘inappropriate’ jibe

SNP councillor Dawn Black – who was among the first to raise concerns – is now calling for Mrs Agnew to be stripped off her “extremely responsible” position of power.

Speaking to The Press and Journal, she questioned the Conservative councillor’s “general competence to carry out the role and chair the committee“.

Dawn Black was elected to represent Stonehaven and Lower Deeside area last May. Image: Scott Baxter/DC Thomson.

Mrs Agnew’s future will be decided by members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee in a crunch vote next week.

Ms Black added: “It was totally inappropriate.

“And if those are the views that she holds, than it is not appropriate for her to be in a position of responsibility within the committee.”

Councillor Wendy Agnew at a Travellers site in Stonehaven in 2011. Image: Jim Irvine/DC Thomson

The call to oust the Stonehaven stalwart, which has been added to the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, states that the committee has “lost confidence” in its chairwoman.

It adds that her “general competency” has been called into question, and suggests a new leader is voted in.

As the committee chairwoman, Wendy Agnew takes home a yearly salary of £29,970.

The basic wage for a councillor without any positions of power is £19,571.

Why was dispute redacted from meeting recording?

Ms Black expressed dismay at Aberdeenshire Council’s cover-up of the matter, adding all elected members should be open to scrutiny and held into account for their actions.

However, a spokesman for the local authority stressed this was done to “avoid potential offence to viewers”.

Image: Aberdeenshire Council.

What do you think should happen? Let us know in our comments section below

He added: “Following a review of comments made during November’s meeting of Kincardine and Mearns area committee, it has been decided not to reinstate the short section of video concerned to avoid potential offence to viewers.

“Any notice of motion lodged for a committee’s consideration would be published in the relevant agenda ahead of the meeting itself.”

Mrs Agnew has hit the headlines in the past for opposing a lobster hut over fears the crustaceans could spook children – who could then run into the road and come to harm.

She also claimed that plans for wind turbines outside Stonehaven could “lead to an airliner coming down”.

The Stonehaven and Lower Deeside councilor has been approached for comment.