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Holme Valley Councillor's Provocative Tweet Reported As Hate Crime

James Dalton is currently the subject of a formal investigation by Kirklees Council

A councillor under investigation following more than 40 complaints about his conduct has posted more provocative comments online.

And the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands that a new tweet by James Dalton has been referred to the police as a hate crime.

Mr Dalton, who is a parish councillor in the Holme Valley, was the focus of multiple complaints following a tweet in which he suggested NHS nurses should go on “an obesity course”

He is currently the subject of a formal investigation by Kirklees Council, which is the overseeing body for such matters.

A source within Kirklees Council has intimated that he will be invited to resign his position on Holme Valley Parish Council.

The LDRS contacted Clr Dalton, who represents the English Democrats party, to ask if he would resign.

He said: “I do not answer hypothetical questions like that.”

He added: “If there was a complaints process getting underway I am sure that that would be subject to the confidentiality of all parties.”

Following his initial tweet about nurses Clr Dalton followed up with further provocative comments on social media.

A tweet on September 27 said: “If I opine about traitor Remainer #CommonPurpose scum within Kirklees Council, such as Clr Paul Davies and ‘Monitoring Nazi’ Julie Muscroft as ‘disgusting pieces of corrupted filth’, do you reasonably think I am representing (i) my own views or (ii) the council?”

Clr Davies, who represents Labour, was elected to the Holme Valley South ward in May. He is chairman of Kirklees Council’s Standards Committee.

Ms Muscroft is the council’s Service Director – Legal, Governance and Commissioning and acts as the authority’s monitoring officer. She investigates complaints against district, town and parish councillors.

A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said: “The comment made against an officer performing their duties is totally unacceptable and we are considering what action we will be taking.”

On September 28 Clr Dalton responded to a news story on Nigel Farage’s comment “we’ll take the knife” to civil servants by suggesting he would “look to decimate staffing at Kirklees Council periodically, starting with Julie ‘Nazi’ Muscroft’.”

Clr Dalton caused a furore in June when he responded to a tweet by Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, showing a photograph of nurses campaigning for NHS vacancies to be filled.

Clr Dalton commented: “Why aren’t they nursing?  And is there an obesity course they can be sent on?”

His comments led to a Twitter storm in which he was criticised for his language by health professionals including the Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May.

An unrepentant Clr Dalton, who lives in Honley, near Huddersfield, said he had nothing to apologise for.

He said nurses were “paid to nurse” and not to campaign on Twitter.

He added: “It’s a really bad example for nurses in that picture to be clinically obese.”

More than 40 complaints were received by Kirklees Council, which is the principal council responsible for considering complaints made about parish and town councillors in its area.

In Kirklees that means Denby Dale, Holme Valley, Kirkburton, Meltham and Mirfield.

On his Twitter account Clr Dalton describes Holme Valley Parish Council as “Marxist infected”.

When contacted by the LDRS he conceded that had targeted Ms Muscroft with “cutting and hurtful language” because he felt she had behaved like a 1930s Nazi in silencing his opposition voice.

He added: “She has written what she has written to me in writing and in the fullness of time she will have to be held to account for her actions.

“I wouldn’t pay her in washers.”

As a “principal council” Kirklees will bear the cost of investigating the dossier of complaints against Clr Dalton.

But it has limited powers to chastise or punish elected members even if they are found to have breached the council’s Code of Conduct.

It has no power to suspend district, town or parish councillors for poor behaviour.

Kirklees’ Committee on Standards in Public Life is currently considering whether such a power could be introduced as a sanction in future.

Instead town and parish councils can make use of “suggested actions” such as making an apology, removal of information on the internet, attending training, the removal of facilities, and mediation.

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