Resign call after Weymouth councillor's Facebook outburst

CONTROVERSY: Coun Peter Chapman

CONTROVERSY: Coun Peter Chapman

First published in News
Last updated
Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A SENIOR councillor has been urged to resign after he used a social networking site to slate service in a coffee shop in Dorchester and said the female staff ‘needed a good beating’.

Weymouth and Portland Borough councillor Peter Chapman took to Facebook to complain after a visit to the Costa Coffee shop, saying: “Terminally slow (and bad) service from the bone idle bitches at Costa Dorchester today, they all need a good beating.”

The comment was made on Mr Chapman’s Facebook profile, and copies of the web page were passed to the Echo.

Two other Weymouth and Portland councillors also commented on the thread.

Councillor Robbie Dunster said: “Costa staff always first class at airports, but then they are all foreign.”

And councillor Christine James added: “Meow. Never knew you had it in you Pete.”

Coun Chapman, a member of the Conservative party and the council’s spokesperson for finance and assets, admitted that he had made the comment ‘in jest’.

He said: “My Facebook status is private and that comment was not made in public.

“That is all I am prepared to say on the matter.”

Following the conversation, Coun Chapman’s Facebook profile was deleted.

Coun James, a Liberal Democrat member who represents Westham North, and the borough council’s spokesperson for transport and infrastructure, said she had seen the comment and written a ‘sarcastic reply’.

She said: “I did not think it was my place to challenge him on his opinion.

“It was written as tongue-in-cheek, although perhaps he did use the wrong choice of words.” Coun James added: “Councillors are people, and make mistakes like everyone else.

“If the public have got nothing better to do than worry about a councillor saying something that is not politically correct then they need to look at themselves occasionally.”

Coun Dunster, also a Conservative party member and ward councillor for Upwey and Broadwey, was unavailable for comment.

Councillor Mike Goodman, leader of the Conservative party on the borough council said: “Councillors are only responsible for their actions when acting as a councillor or deferring to council business.”

A women’s group has called for Coun Chapman to step down after the comments.

Independent chair of Women’s Action Network Dorset (WAND), Toni McKee, said: “I think this is absolutely terrible, and there are no grounds for even joking about something like that.

“I think he should step down.

“We are working so hard to break the perception that domestic violence is acceptable, so it is shocking that someone in a public position should say something like this.”

Assistant manager at Costa Dorchester Gemma Stephenson said the remarks were ‘shocking’.

She said: “It’s not a nice thing for anyone to say, and definitely not something a councillor should be saying.”

Business leaders demand apology

BUSINESS leaders in Dorchester have called for Coun Chapman to apologise over the comment.

Phil Gordon, of the town's Business Improvement District, said: “It is not an acceptable way to behave and hopefully a full apology will be forthcoming.

“It is not representative of my experience when I have been in Costa Dorchester.”

Alison Moore, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said: “I can understand the frustration when you are in a queue and it's busy but that is a really unacceptable thing to say and I'm quite shocked.

“I do not know the man but he should consider apologising.

“If it was a genuine mistake then he should think about how he might be able to repair the damage.

“It does go to show that these profiles are not really private and we have to be careful about how we say what we say.”

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