Councillors urged to act over Bury Nazis

By Jonathan Kalmus, June 24, 2010
Style dictator: one man dressed as Goering

Style dictator: one man dressed as Goering

Jewish leaders have called on Bury councillors to "stop sitting on the fence" after a muted response to communal outrage over men dressed in Nazi regalia at a public event three weeks ago.

Since the event, it has emerged that 20 men wore swastikas and SS insignia at the East Lancashire Railway wartime re-enactment. One man posed as Nazi war-criminal Hermann Goering, while photographs have confirmed some men wearing up to five pieces of Nazi insignia and a jeep draped in a large Nazi flag, which flout rules set by the organisers banning such displays.

Whitefield solicitor Howard Landy, who was at the event, says he has had no response to his complaints to Bury North MP David Nuttal and is dissatisfied that his local councillor told him no-one was wearing SS uniforms.

"That doesn't make a difference, there were still men in Nazi insignia," said Mr Landy.

"There was this bloke with a white uniform and a cane, supposed to be Hermann Goering. What's this got to do with wartime England?"

The president of Manchester's Jewish Representative Council, Lucille Cohen, made repeated phone calls to Ramsbottom councillor Barry Theckston, who sits on the East Lancashire Railway Trust.

"He wouldn't give me an undertaking to bring it up at the council," she said.

"The councillors really need to take their responsibilities very seriously in this matter and act to ensure the concerns of their voters are taken into consideration."

Mr Theckston said that his "sympathy lies with those who find it offensive, I don't know if it's against the law.

"But it's not my responsibility, it's the organisers' and the East Lancs Railway, nothing to do with the council."

The railway's general manager, Andy Coward, said he was making a commitment to "clamp down" on rogue Nazi actors and invited suggestions to achieve it.

"I'm aware of a number of people who were asked to remove stuff, but there is nothing to stop them putting it back on. It's a shame almost every year this issue overshadows what is an enjoyable event."

Bury South MP Ivan Lewis, who is Jewish, said a lack of action represented "a crass insensitivity to the feelings of the local community. The council's failure to act is an abdication of responsibility and a failure made worse by the fact that public concern has been brought to their attention on several occasions in the past".

Last updated: 4:31pm, June 24 2010