Tory councillor among primary school PTA members accused of 'blacking up' for Kent bonfire parade

School apologises after spectators complain over 'highly offensive' costumes at Guy Fawkes event

Tom Barnes@thomas_barnes
Thursday 08 November 2018 05:27
The controversy took place at the Edenbridge bonfire event, which this year saw an effigy of Boris Johnson burned
The controversy took place at the Edenbridge bonfire event, which this year saw an effigy of Boris Johnson burned

A Conservative councillor is accused of being among members of a Kent primary school’s parent teacher association who “blacked up” while taking part in a bonfire night parade.

Some spectators branded the group from Hever Primary School in Edenbridge “highly offensive” over the costumes, which accompanied a Caribbean-inspired float at the town’s annual fireworks celebrations.

Members of the group took part in the march walking alongside the float dressed in colourful outfits, with some wearing what appeared to be blackface makeup.

Participants were reported to include Trevor Bryant, a Tory member of Edenbridge Council, with pictures from the event appearing to show him wearing a frilly shirt, hat and brown face paint.

The Guardian quoted the councillor as confirming he was the man in the photographs, but he declined to comment to further media requests.

Joanna Stratton, head teacher at Hever Primary School, apologised for the incident, insisting no offence had been intended.

“We are very much a multicultural school with respect, love and wisdom as our motto,” she told Kent Live. “We do not tolerate racism or bullying in our school.

“This was run by the PTA - it is not to do with staff at the school. However, they represent the school.

“We do not feel they blacked up but were wearing costume. They put makeup on because of what they were wearing.

“One of the organisers is of Bajan heritage herself and did not intend any offence or disrespect.

“It was the same as putting on a hat or scarf or beard and was innocently done - it was as simple as that.”

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Edenbridge has developed a reputation for putting on one of the most spectacular bonfire night displays in the country, similar to the perhaps more famous event staged every year in Lewes, East Sussex.

The celebrations see a giant effigy of a controversial public figure burned, with organisers selecting former foreign secretary Boris Johnson to be placed on the bonfire this year.

In previous years, caricatures of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Donald Trump have been torched at the event.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments