Mid Wales

Council chief reprimanded over use of n-word

Myfanwy Alexander Image copyright Taken from BBC radio 4 online
Image caption Ms Alexander was concerned over how some England-based health workers treat Welsh language patients

The deputy leader of Powys Council has been "severely reprimanded" for using racially offensive language at a council meeting.

Myfanwy Alexander used the n-word in a debate about cross-border health services.

She has apologised for using the term, which she said was a "careless word".

Ms Alexander was speaking about the treatment of some patients when they travel over the border to Shropshire for treatment.

The Shropshire Star quoted her as saying: "We are treated like ******* over the border."

She added: "Our language and culture is trampled on and it's a very sensitive issue.

"It's not our fault that we don't have a district general hospital to go to."

Ms Alexander told BBC Wales she apologises for using the word and will not resign.

'Fight prejudice'

"I apologise and accept the reprimand," she said.

"I was quoting from {Maya Angelou's} I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings where a black character is refused dental treatment.

"I've not considered resigning from the cabinet because I was campaigning on a very important issue.

"If I'd used the word because I was racist and my mask had slipped I'd have to resign.

"But people who know me will know it was a careless word. You should resign for an attitude, not a word."

The councillor said she was using the term to fight prejudice.

"In my ward 60% are Welsh speakers," she said.

'Vivid language'

"The very old and very young often get very bad treatment (from health workers). I feel passionately about this because people end up feeling stranded."

The matter has been referred to the Public Services Ombudsman.

Council leader Barry Thomas said he had sent Ms Alexander for equalities training.

"She said she used the vivid language as a way of fighting prejudice and unequal treatment," he said.

Conservative group leader at the council Aled Davies said Ms Alexander was known for her "vivid anecdotes" but use of the word was unacceptable.

"I do not believe Myfanwy is in any way a racist, she has a huge passion for fighting any inequality or injustice but to make a comparison about the treatment of Welsh speaking people by the NHS to the plight of black Americans is extremely offensive," he said.

But John Morris, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat group on the council, said she should be "relieved of her duties".

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