Walsall's mayor suspended over ‘racist’ WhatsApp post a week after being elected

Walsall’s newly elected mayor has been suspended by her party for six months over a ‘racist’ post that appeared on her WhatsApp account.

Mayor of Walsall Councillor Rose Martin
Mayor of Walsall Councillor Rose Martin

Councillor Rose Martin was this week hit with the sanction by the national Conservative Party and also ordered to undertake diversity training following an investigation.

The offending picture showed five black children looking at one white child under the caption “First day at school for a Ukrainian refugee in South London”.

A resident saw the WhatsApp post and lodged an official complaint with the national Conservatives, sparking the official party investigation into the allegations.

At the time, Councillor Martin told the Local Democracy Reporting Service she had been hacked and had reported the matter to the police. The council’s monitoring officer was also informed and investigations are ongoing.

The mayor said there was an ongoing investigation and she was unable to comment.

It is understood she still has time to lodge an appeal against the suspension should she wish to do so.

Walsall Council and Tory group leader Mike Bird said he was awaiting official notification from the national party on the outcome of their investigation.

But he confirmed he was aware Councillor Martin had been given a six month suspension, directed to undertake diversity training as well as making an apology to the party board.

The controversy has cast a shadow over her mayoral year and could spark calls for her to resign from a role she was only elected into in a ceremony at Walsall Council House last Monday.

The suspension does not prevent Councillor Martin from continuing as civic leader or as an elected member for the Pelsall ward.

She will sit as an independent councillor for the six months before being able to apply to rejoin the party once the suspension period has been served.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said: “The post was disgusting and racist. The question now is how can someone continue being the mayor of such a diverse town as Walsall?”

At last week’s mayor making ceremony, Walsall Labour leader Aftab Nawaz said his group could not support Councillor Martin’s nomination as mayor due to this issue.

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