Councillor Russell Bernstein released a statement on behalf of the Bury Conservatives regarding the Council Meeting held on Wednesday, 22nd November.
"I need to challenge the misinformation that Bury Labour have put out. Last night (Wednesday) the Conservative group tabled a motion to Council on community cohesion. This was proposed as a result of Bury Labour Councillor's, including the Deputy Leader of the Council, attending and speaking at a rally in support of Palestine. During that rally, anti semitic chants such as "from the river to the sea" were heard and the Councillors in question engaged in anti-Israeli and highly inflammatory rhetoric.
The rally was sponsored by a Council funded community group, a member of whom is the Council’s Deputy Lead Member for Communities. We believe this group acted significantly outside its remit.
This rally was highly partisan in nature and caused a great deal of distress and concern, particularly to members of the Jewish community.
The presence of Councillors, particularly the Deputy Leader and the Deputy Lead Member for Communities, is something that was of great concern to us all.
Councillors represent all communities in our Borough and it was unacceptable for the Bury Labour Councillors to behave in this way. Their actions had and continue to have, a detrimental effect on community cohesion and Bury Labour was happy to allow them to do so. They failed to condemn their actions. As recent as Tuesday this week Bury Labour Councillors (including the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Deputy Lead Member for Communities) attended another Anti-Israel event within Bury.
This motion sought to address this and it is disappointing, yet not surprising, that the Bury Labour group sought to avoid censoring their Councillors, by creating a spurious excuse around funding of community groups.
There was never any intention to " defund" any organisation that was, or is, engaged in legitimate political activity as outlined in rules that govern charities.
As stated, we believe the organisation which supported the Palestinian rally went beyond their legitimate purpose, by sponsoring an event that created division. It is utterly shameful that Bury Labour are either happy to allow their Councillor to actively participate in such activities or are incapable of controlling them.
Let me repeat what I said in support of the motion in the Council Chamber. Bury Conservatives strongly condemns the terrorist attack on Israel on 7th October and the taking of hostages and totally support the right of Israel to defend themselves against the terrorist group Hammas. We hope all the hostages can be released immediately.