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Walsall Council leader apologises over traveller comments

By Luke Bartlett | Walsall | News | Published:

The leader of Walsall Council has issued an apology after claiming travellers are a 'lawless society' who have 'no respect' for the community.

Councillor Mike Bird sparked a huge row after making the comments on a radio phone-in where he said travellers 'do not give a damn'.

But now the council leader has issued an apology over his comments in the interview, during which the word 'parasites' was used – and said he regrets any offence caused.

Councillor Mike Bird

Councillor Bird said: "I didn't use the word but the word was used and I confirmed that I supported that view. I felt that it is not the word that should have been used."

He added: "I would like to express my sincere regret and apologies to anyone who was offended by the use of this deeply unpleasant word in relation to any community.

"I respect every community and individual equally and that is something I firmly believe in. I deeply regret any offence caused, it was certainly not intended or meant."

It comes after his comments during the show, where Mr Bird said: "The ones I have come across are a lawless society, they have no respect whatsoever for our community and I get this all the time – oh, it's their culture. But what about our culture? What about our way of life?"

Councillor Bird’s comments prompted an angry response from other callers, with one demanding Theresa May sack him for his 'unacceptable language'.

Asked if he felt any venom towards travellers in general, Councillor Bird said: “Oh absolutely. The residents suffer 24 hours a day when travellers rock up on their doorsteps.

"They have youngsters driving motorbikes on private land and this is invariably on land that belongs to the council. They just have no respect for other people."

Luke Bartlett

By Luke Bartlett
Trainee Reporter - @lbartlett_star

Trainee Express & Star reporter covering Dudley and Sandwell. Get in touch on 01902 319445 or via luke.bartlett@expressandstar.co.uk.

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