Richard McKenzie, wannabe Park ward councillor, known as Basher because of his propensity for violent behaviour, especially towards those in not much of a position to fight back. He has stood several times for election, being elected only once, in Kentwood, on the back of the work by the previous Labour councillor. Subsequently he failed to be re-elected or elected again in Kentwood, and failed again in Park earlier this year. He was the worst-performing Labour parliamentary candidate ever in Henley, coming fifth and losing his deposit. Now he would like to be elected in Park. But this is how he behaves (hat-tip various, all of whom were present at or indeed the victims of the assaults described; my words in roman, direct quotes from those who have been in touch or from speeches in italics):
Insulted and physically abused a KMC (Kings Meadow Campaign) campaigner who was handing out flyers in Broad Street announcing a public meeting [a retired gentleman and member of the Salvation Army]
When told by another campaigner that his behaviour in Broad Street was out of order, he proceeded to be verbally abusive and physically aggressive.
Shone a laser penlight into the eyes of others attending a meeting.
Towards Cllr Rebecca Rye, last night, who says:
I would also like to say that when I went outside Mr McKenzie was abusive and came across as very threatening although he kept accusing me of being threatening myself as I gesticulated as I talked with him. Lastly I was also very perturbed by his comment to me "May I call you Rebecca, Oh I'm not looking at your chest"!
Basher had previously been "leering" over the balcony above Cllr Rye (a witness tells me).
Other witnesses describe his behaviour at the meeting thus:
Basher asked lots of questions when supposedly presenting his petition (which is addressed to WBC)
Basher’s supplementary was not for clarification of the answer to his original question
He illegally took photographs
He continually heckled and interrupted the debate of the motion/amendment from the balcony
By leaning over the balcony he tried to intimidate Coalition councillors during their speeches.
His performance last night, on top of his continual jabs at and mocking of Mark Ralph on his blog, clearly demonstrate his self-interest in using these vulnerable parents as a vehicle for his next attempt back into elected office
There is plenty more, in addition to the "scum" remark thrown at a member of the public who had done nothing to provoke it.
Basher says that Wokingham Borough Council "sent a spy" to last night's meeting. Did they now. Any Wokingham councillor or officer could have attended the meeting quite openly, wearing a WBC badge, and sat in the public gallery if they had wished. Those attending who have been in touch with me have not indicated that any did.
And as for saying, as Basher does, that Cllr Hussain, who actually has been elected by the voters of Park ward, did not speak up for Park parents, this is what Cllr Hussain actually said:
First I would like to praise the parents leading the campaign – Jane, Fiona, Mira, Rachel and Zarina in particular - for all their hard work.
I passionately support the campaign’s aim to remain in Maiden Erlegh’s catchment. The community is close-knit, it has supported the school for decades and the community would like to continue doing this for many years to come. Maiden Erlegh is the local school for the southern part of Park Ward. My residents live within a very short walk and so it makes sense for them to remain in Maiden Erlegh’s catchment.
To change the catchment would force the parents to use their cars and create more traffic on Wokingham’s roads. It would also risk the break-up of the community, with some families feeling they have to move. This would be very sad because at the moment the community is very cohesive. It is great how the residents know so many of their neighbours. To a large extent this is because their children are making friends with their neighbours children at the local primary schools and then progressing on to Maiden Erlegh together. Mr Mayor, I hope you will agree that we do not want to destroy this vibrant community.
To enable as many residents to take part in the informal consultation, I asked Wokingham Borough Council to translate the leaflet into both Urdu and Polish.
I am delighted to say I have received both translations and I have started to hand them out. I would be grateful to councillors, the local press and the public here tonight, to spread the word that these translations are available from the Palmer Park Library.
Finally I would like to say that the reason Cllr Ralph needed to amend Cllr Hartley’s motion is to maximise the campaign’s chances of success. I have repeatedly said to campaigners that we should be polite in our dealings with Wokingham. In the real world, businessmen sit down and discuss their issues to work out a satisfactory outcome. This is what we must continue to do. I truly believe that Cllr Ralph’s amendment is the way for this campaign to be successful and therefore I hope all councillors will be supporting it.
Which seems to me to be just the sort of considered and caring contribution the voters have the right to expect from their representative. With no personal attacks.
I understand that the Chair of the Reading East Conservatives was also in the gallery, to support Cllr Hussain, who is an elected member in the Reading East constituency, and also to support the Park parents. I am told that she identified herself to Basher and that the brief conversation they had was overheard by several others.
So there you have it. If the Park ward Labour Party select this boorish, duplicitous, misogynist thug they are causing further serious damage to their already tainted brand in Reading.