Councillor blasted for “unacceptable” remarks about immigrants

14:12 21 April 2013

A Tory councillor who said that some nationalities are “uncertain” what hard work means has been condemned by his party.

Responding to proposals by the Durand Academy, in south London, to open an Eton-style boarding school in the Sussex countryside, Councillor John Cherry was also quoted by the Mail on Sunday warning Pakistani children will fail to “rise to the top”.

The Chichester councillor said children allowed “out of the site” would want to “escape into the forest - it will be a sexual volcano”.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “These comments are totally unacceptable and do not reflect the views of the Conservative Party and we are investigating.”

Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “When a Tory councillor makes openly racist comments like these, it’s no surprise people still think of the Conservatives as the nasty party.

“David Cameron must condemn his councillor’s words and take immediate action against Councillor Cherry to show that he will not accept racism in his party.”

The plans of the Durand Academy, which is based in Stockwell, have sparked some opposition from people living near the proposed boarding school site.

The proposal is to use St Cuthman’s School, a disused boarding school in Stedham, West Sussex, which the academy reportedly bought for £3.4million in 2010.

Starting next September, the high-achieving London academy will have 625 places for pupils between 13 and 18 at St Cuthman’s. It plans by then to have built extra teaching and boarding blocks, with £17million of government support.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Department for Education (DfE) has said it finds it “difficult to believe” anyone, including Cllr Cherry, would have a problem with such an “inspirational” project.

The DfE said in a statement: “Durand has a superb record of helping some of our most disadvantaged pupils achieve brilliant results thanks to a rigorous curriculum, great teaching and sky-high expectations for all pupils.

“Durand’s boarding school is a bold experiment and a chance to give inner-city youngsters a truly world-class education.”

Councillor Cherry, who represents Stedham, was quoted in the Mail on Sunday as saying: “Ninety-seven per cent of pupils will be black or Asian.

“It depends what type of Asian. If they’re Chinese they’ll rise to the top. If they’re Indian they’ll rise to the top. If they’re Pakistani they won’t.

“There are certain nationalities where hard work is highly valued. There are certain nationalities where they are uncertain what this hard work is all about.”

He reportedly added: “Stockwell is a coloured area - I have no problem with that. To be honest, I would far rather Durand took over a secondary school in London rather than shoving everybody here.”

Councillor Cherry declined to comment on the accuracy of the comments or to make any further comment when contacted by the Press Association.

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