The mean mean grass of home

6 December 2010

Fellow councillors called for him to quit and have demanded that David Cameron throw him out of the Tory party.

Mr Eckersley, who is mayor of Prestatyn in North Wales, has offered an apology, claiming he simply referred to the Nazis rather than praised them. However, Christine Evans, an independent councillor who chaired the meeting, said he had spoken of how Hitler got rid of the Gypsies.

“He definitely used the term Hitler when talking about the traveller issue and the thrust was suggesting that we should move the travellers out the country,” she said.

Adolf HitlerAn estimated 1.5 million Romany Gypsies were murdered in the gas chambers or worked to death during the Second World War. Councillor Evans halted the meeting and told the mayor he should retract his ‘heat of the moment’ comments or be thrown out.

Mr Eckersley provoked outrage by allegedly claiming Adolf Hitler had the ‘right idea’ about dealing with Germany’s gipsies

Fellow Prestatyn councillor Peter Duffy, who is of Romany descent, said: ‘These comments are shocking. Hitler had Gypsies gassed or experimented on – he can’t say something like that and stay on as our mayor.’

“The travelling community contribute a lot to the local economy around here and employ a lot of people, I think there will be a lot of angry people on the back of these comments.

“I really do think he should resign as the Mayor of Prestatyn and as a county councillor, because I do not know how anyone who could make these comments could remain a mayor or a councillor.”

The comment comes as new research from the Welsh Equality and Human Rights Commission has identified the country’s Gypsies and Travellers as one of four groups most likely to be discriminated against. Its latest research, entitled, Not just another statistic, has captured the voices and stories of the most marginalised communities in Wales.

One of the stories is told by Welsh Gypsy Isaac Blake, from the Shirenewton site in Cardiff. Isaac, who now heads up the Romani Cultural and Arts Company, is the principle organiser of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month in Wales.

Isaac says that he wanted to be a role model for young people in the community. In particular he wanted young people to be more challenging of the treatment that they receive and to be more ambitious. He is particularly proud of the impact that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month is having.

‘After only two years of celebration in Wales we are beginning to see young people stand up in school and declare that they are of Gypsy or Traveller heritage where once they would have hidden their ethnicity for fear of being bullied’.

Kate Bennett, National Director for Wales, Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said: “Our research shows how not being allowed to be `yourself’ forces people to live hidden lives. Many people are unable to access rights, justice and make complaints.

The EHRC’s research on Gypsies and Travellers can be found here: