'Respect' spat over hat-wearing tattooed town councillor
A tattooed councillor has made an official complaint about a colleague after what he calls “continued disrespect” towards him in the council chamber.
Oswestry Town Council member Jay Moore, 35, was asked by former mayor Councillor Sandy Best to remove his baseball cap before Monday night’s meeting in the Guildhall.
He said he was referred to as looking like a “West Side Story reject”.
He has now lodged a formal complaint, which he is asking to be sent to the local authority monitoring officer at Shropshire Council.
Councillor Best says Monday's conversation was private and took place before the council meeting started but stood by her belief that standards and dress codes have dropped.
'The last straw'
Councillor Moore, a drum teacher and street entertainer who has a fire-breathing act, said he decided to make the complaint after what he called a series of comments about his appearance.
“Monday was the last straw,” he said.
“It was quite embarrassing, really. I take things like this to heart having spent all my childhood and teen years constantly being bullied.
"I find it very difficult not speaking up to defend myself after spending so many years in silence and it weighs on me.
“I have tattoos – yes. I wear hats and, no, it doesn’t make me any less of a councillor than anyone else.”
He said that last year’s mayor told him men should take their hats off and that he told her he thought that was a sexist comment.
“She then said I looked like a ‘West Side Story reject’, which doesn’t make sense,” he said.
His letter to town council clerk Arren Roberts said: “Councillor Best has made several comments based on my appearance.
“I would also ask that Councillor Best be mindful of her position on the council being equal to everyone else, and her responsibility to represent everyone within the town.”
'I am not sexist'
In response Councillor Best said: “The conversation took place before the meeting started. It was a private conversation and verbally instigated by Councillor Moore.”
She said she stood by her views that councillors should be respectful of their position.
“In general I believe very strongly that standards have dropped and that there is a way we should dress at council meetings and civic functions. It is all about respect.”
The retired historian said that she felt very strongly about being called sexist.
“I have spent the last 70 years fighting for women’s rights and to be called sexist when I simply asked him to take his hat off for the council meeting is hard to take,” she said.
Arren Roberts said he could not comment on individual councillor complaints.