Councillor asked to quit over new Twitter slurs

COUN DAVID POTTS ... there are fresh calls for him to stand down over comments made on Twitter.
COUN DAVID POTTS ... there are fresh calls for him to stand down over comments made on Twitter.

A CONTROVERSIAL councillor who said South Tyneside had a ‘poxy backwater council’ has been branded a ‘vindictive bully’ by furious Town Hall bosses.

And today there are fresh calls for Coun David Potts to resign after his latest tirade on social network site Twitter.

The UKIP representative for Cleadon and East Boldon will face the standards committee – an independent council watchdog – after he received a criminal caution for unauthorised disclosure of personal data.

He took documents from a behind closed doors Town Hall meeting and handed them to the Gazette earlier this year.

The authority said Coun Potts’s attacks were “the latest in a series of vindictive attempts to bully and harass the officials who had to report his highly destructive and irresponsible behaviour to the police”.

The 29-year-old directed the tweets – sent on Monday night – to a constituent who, the Gazette understands, was arranging a meeting with him over traffic issues.

Now local authority leader, Coun Iain Malcolm, insists Coun Potts, who has previously spoken publicly of stepping down, should resign.

He told the Gazette: “Coun Potts is an extremely intelligent young man and, when he applies himself, a worthy opponent in debate.

“But to describe South Tyneside, and by inclination the area he represents on the council, as a “poxy backwater” is demeaning and offensive.

“There are enough ill-informed commentators from the South with a negative view of the North East. We don’t need elected councillors reinforcing the false stereotype.

“It is becoming a regular occurrence for Coun Potts to offend as many people as possible.

“Either he genuinely believes the nonsense he writes or he is writing in a tired, emotional state.

“Either way, I believe he must now honour his previous public statement and resign.”

A statement issued by South Tyneside Council read: “A recent police investigation resulted in Coun Potts receiving a formal criminal caution relating to dangerous and inappropriate behaviour in his role as a councillor.

“The council’s standards committee has ordered an investigation to consider the serious allegations against Coun Potts. The investigator’s report will be considered by the committee.

“It is clear Coun Potts’s recent comments are the latest in a series of vindictive attempts to bully and harass the officials who had to report his highly destructive and irresponsible behaviour to the police.

“It is especially worrying that, as a serving elected member of the council, Coun Potts has chosen to denigrate South Tyneside by describing it as ‘a poxy backwater’.

“Both the council and residents are very proud of South Tyneside and expect the highest standards of elected councillors.

“In the event of inappropriate behaviour, it is our responsibility to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent councillors from behaving in such a way, and sadly this can expose officials to personal attacks.

“Council officers do not have powers to discipline councillors, but our residents rightly expect standards to be upheld and inappropriate behaviour to be tackled if it arises.”

During his latest Twitter exchange, Coun Potts also appeared to invite a member of the public to a W&S party – an acronym used for wives and swingers – and used the phrase ‘bunga bunga’ – Italian for describing orgies.

He made derogatory references toward council chief executive Martin Swales in the online exchange.

When the Gazette contacted Coun Potts over his behaviour, he stressed he “loved South Tyneside dearly” and that his ‘poxy backwater’ comment was targeted at the local authority and not the borough.

He also insisted a W&S party referred to a ‘wine and sandwiches’ event.

He added: “I did not invite a constituent to any kind of inappropriate party. A W&S party stands for a “wine and sandwiches” party.

“‘Bunga bunga’ is a slang term I believe was invented by Colonel Gaddafi.

“My understanding is that it is merely a social gathering. The phrase is used among my circle. I may have misunderstood its perceived meaning.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazvez