A veteran Tory councillor has been suspended from the national Conservative party and Buckinghamshire fire authority after he was accused of making racist and sexist remarks to a black firefighter.
It was reported last month that Andy Dransfield, who is also a councillor in Milton Keynes, shook a black fireman’s hand during a visit to Great Holm fire station and declared: “You’re the first one I’ve seen.”
As the firefighter looked embarrassed and stayed silent, Mr Dransfield added: “You know.... ethnic minority.”
He then ploughed on, saying: “Now all we need is a woman. Are there any here?”
Mr Dransfield, who was vice-chair of the Buckinghamshire fire authority, insists he was trying to support diversity within the fire service.
But his remarks prompted a complaint to the fire Brigades Union, which is currently conducting a full investigation.
The councillor, who is in his sixties, is also under scrutiny by the director of legal and governance at Bucks and Milton Keynes Fire Authority.
He has represented Milton Keynes Council on the authority for several years, and was elected to it this year by MK Tory leader Councillor Edith Bald.
Ms Bald said this week: “I had to do the wise thing and suspend Andy from the fire authority because I did not want to prejudice the investigation.”
The decision to suspend Mr Dransfield from the Conservative party came from national Tory officials.
Mr Dransfield, who is determined to still serve his Loughton and Shenley ward as an independent, said: “I visited the Great Holm fire station at the beginning of August in my capacity as vice-chairman of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Combined Fire Authority. On arrival, I greeted all the firefighters, and in particular, shook an ethic minority firefighter warmly by the hand, saying something like, “you are the first one I have seen - an ethnic minority firefighter’. They are quite a rarity in the fire service.”
He added: “I understand that this complaint has been raised by the Fire brigades Union with whom I have an uneasy relationship, particularly after supporting the merger of Great Holm and Bletchley fire stations earlier this year in the face of FBU opposition.
“I fully support diversity and would like to see a more representative complement of ethnic minority and female firefighters. No offence was intended and I am more than happy to apologise if offence was taken.”