Former Mayor of Dudley expelled from Conservative group after Covid outburst

Cllr Ray Burston, who held the office in 2008/9, released a statement encouraging people to ignore the government's Covid-19 guidelines.

In the document, cllr Burston described the 'devastating effect' that government measures have had upon our economy, jobs and mental health and called for people to join him in flouting the rules. He has had the whip removed, meaning he will now sit as an independent councillor, after the leader branded his remarks as 'foolish'. Leader of Dudley Council, cllr Patrick Harley said:

"We've all faced real hardships - and emotive hardships - during the pandemic but we have to see this through to the end and I think cllr Burston's outburst is irresponsible.  

"We're so close to beating this. We've had two vaccines approved and to do as he suggests would be to undo all of the hard work that people of the borough have put in over the last 10 months.

Speaking to Ian Marrey in an interview to be aired on Black Country Week tomorrow (Saturday), cllr Burston said:

"If you've got a friend who hasn't seen anybody for weeks on end, go and see them. That's the breach of lockdown I'm asking for. 

"If the police ask you what you're doing, be open and tell them what you're doing and why you're doing it. If they feel they have to arrest you and fine you - refuse to pay the fine. if it means you've got to go to prison then you've got to go to prison. 

"The government simply cannot imprison everybody who's breaking the law in minor ways. As soon as the government realise that, they'll start concentrating on shielding the vulnerable which is what we should have been doing from the start."

Cllr Harley added:

"Businesses have been closed, we've not hugged children and grandchildren, we've missed family and friends birthday parties and not been able to say goodbye to loved ones who have passed away. None of us like being locked down and being told what to do, but it's better than seeing the death toll rise higher.

"If people do take heed of what cllr Burston is saying and follow his lead, and that leads to our hospitals being overwhelmed and more people dying, then he has to have that on his conscience."

You can hear Ian Marrey discuss the statement with cllr Ray Burston on Black Country Week, tomorrow from 10am.


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