Bexley Labour Condemned For Criticising Youth Games Participants

At last night’s Full Council meeting (16 July 2008), Labour Group Leisure Spokesman Cllr Harbans Buttar criticised the 5th Place that the Bexley Youth Game participants came at the recent Youth Games at Crystal Palace, and suggested that their achievement was not good enough, especially following their 4th place last year.
 
Interestingly he also criticised them in 2007 for coming 4th following their previous year’s 3rd place.  In the last 6 years the results have been:
 
2003          1st
2004          3rd
2005          7th
2006          3rd
2007          4th
2008          5th

In a move that shocked Councillors from both Parties and members of the public present, Cllr Buttar asked the Leader of the Council, Cllr Teresa O’Neill, what her views of the teams failures were.
 
The young sportsmen and women from Bexley beat off tough competition at the Games to come fifth in the 31st London Youth Games held at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

More than 500 young people represented Bexley in the annual event in which 22,000 young people take part in sports over a six week period. This year was one of the closest ever with only 22 points separating first from fifth place and Lewisham were only 9 points ahead to take 2nd place.

Highlights for the Bexley team included gold medals in vault gymnastics , girl’s artistic gymnastics, boy’s floor and weightlifting as well as silver medals in aquathlon, diving and boy’s hockey.

Some teams reached new highs for the borough including a fourth placement in trampolining, fifth place in boy’s athletics and fifth in the girl’s basketball.
 
Cllr Peter Catterall, Conservative Cabinet Member for Leisure, Arts and Tourism said after the meeting ‘These achievements are certainly worthy of praise and not criticism, and as I said in the meeting I find Cllr Buttar’s comments in very poor taste to the young people who took part’ 
 
‘The ability of these young athletes should be praised, and certainly not criticised, and we should also show our appreciation of all the work of the parents, volunteers and clubs without whom we would not be able to field teams at the Games’.

Cllr Teresa O’Neill, Leader of the Council said ‘Cllr Buttar should be ashamed of himself, and I call upon him to apologise on behalf of himself and the Labour Group for these comments to the Bexley Youth Team’
 
‘The teams trained hard to get to the Games, and did incredibly well, a fact that can be seen in the fact that there were only 22 points between 1st and 5th place (or 0.2%)’

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