A Conservative Bury councillor who had the whip removed after allegedly suggesting it could be difficult to speak to residents unless “you’re able to speak Hebrew” has been reinstated to the party “with immediate effect.”
Cllr Robert Caserta, who represents the Pilkington Park ward on Bury Council, was reported to have used “inappropriate language” while sitting on an interview panel in July last year.
A complaint was made about “discriminatory questions and remarks” made by Cllr Caserta while sitting on an interview panel to recruit a senior council officer last July.
It was alleged that while referring to “litter grot spots” in Sedgley ward – home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the country – the councillor allegedly remarked that “it would be difficult communicating with residents unless you are able to speak Hebrew”.
Following an independent investigation, the council’s standards sub-committee ruled that Cllr Caserta’s had used “disrespectful and wholly inappropriate” language.
The whip was removed by the party pending a full investigation.
But a message circulated this week amongst members of Bury Council confirmed: “I want to inform you that Cllr Caserta has been re-instated as a member of the Conservative with immediate effect.”
After the councillor’s comments were reported the leader of the Conservative group Cllr Nick Jones, and the local MP Christian Wakeford, issued a joint statement slamming the comments saying they were “at best inappropriate and deeply offensive and at worst could be construed as antisemitic.”
The MP for Bury South and the Conservative Group leader also stressed the “excellent relationship” they enjoyed with the local Jewish community.
The councillor had previously appeared before a Council Standards Sub-Committee, where he was found to have used “language that was disrespectful and wholly inappropriate.”
He was also previously asked to apologise for writing an email to a Labour councillor, who is Jewish, asking whether she would consider her position with the Labour Party as some of its members had expressed antisemitic sentiment.
Jewish News has contacted the Bury Conservative leader for comment on the decision to reinstate Cllr Caserta.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.