Leader defends anti-eruv councillor

Barnet Council’s leader has rejected calls for the resignation as a cabinet member of a Tory colleague who organised a Shoah event having previously made disparaging comments about a proposed local eruv.

Councillor Richard Cornelius insisted this week that Councillor David Longstaff’s suggestion that an eruv should be opposed because it might encourage Jews to move to the area did not compromise his suitability to organise the Shoah commemoration.

Although admitting to a “poor choice of words” when commenting on the Barnet eruv plan at a council meeting, Councillor Longstaff said that he had put his “heart and soul” into organising the HMD event.

On Monday, Barnet opposition leader Councillor Alison Moore called for his immediate resignation, claiming he had “compromised himself and his office.

“Councillor Longstaff’s comments were highly insensitive and have undermined his role as the cabinet member leading on HMD and community engagement.”

But Councillor Cornelius accused Labour of attempting to score political points.

“I have never seen any sniff of antisemitism [from councillors] in Barnet.

“Councillor Longstaff is not in any way anti the Jewish community.

“An eruv is something to be discussed. Personally I support them. If we can make life easier for our Jewish residents then that’s great. An eruv is harmless.”

Last updated: 11:45am, February 25 2013