The Durand Academy in Brixton is a high-performing London school whose leadership has been repeatedly praised by education secretary Michael Gove.
Next year, it plans to open a second site in Stedham, West Sussex where pupils will be housed Monday to Friday in a disused school building.
The Mail on Sunday today reports that several Stedham residents have objected to the scheme. While some of those quoted undoubtedly have genuine objections, there are also some whose statements range from the eyebrow-raising to the outright shocking.
For example, John Cherry, county councillor for Midhurst, told the MoS:
“Ninety-seven per cent of pupils will be black or Asian. It depends what type of Asian. If they’re Chinese they’ll rise to the top. If they’re Indian they’ll rise to the top. If they’re Pakistani they won’t.
“There are certain nationalities where hard work is highly valued. There are certain nationalities where they are uncertain what this hard work is all about.
“If the children are not allowed out of the site then it will make them want to escape into the forest – it will be a sexual volcano.
“Stockwell is a coloured area – I have no problem with that. To be honest, I would far rather Durand took over a secondary school in London rather than shoving everybody here.”
Cherry won his county council seat in November 2012 with 78 per cent of the vote. The only other candidate was Ukip’s Douglas Denny, who gained 21.8 per cent.
Cherry has been contacted for comment.
Update, 3pm: Labour’s education spokesman Stephen Twigg made this statement earlier today: “When a Tory councillor makes openly racist comments like these, it’s no surprise people still think of the Conservatives as the nasty party. David Cameron must condemn his councillor’s words and take immediate action against Councillor Cherry to show that he will not accept racism in his party.”
James Chapman, the Daily Mail‘s political editor, has just tweeted the following, making it likely that John Cherry will not be a Conservative councillor for much longer.
Con spokesman on Cllr Cherry: “These comments are totally unacceptable, do not reflect the views of the Party and we are investigating’
— James Chapman (Mail) (@jameschappers) April 21, 2013
John Cherry has now resigned as a councillor. In a statement, he said:
My remarks about Durand Academy, as reported in the Mail on Sunday, were plainly wrong. They were thoughtless and extremely foolish. I unreservedly apologise and withdraw them. I very much regret the distress this must have caused.
According to the BBC, a Conservative Party spokesman said Cherry’s comments were “totally unacceptable” and did “not reflect the views of the Conservative Party”.