Town elects new mayor despite behaviour concerns

A man wearing a blue turban wearing official mayoral dress sitting at a brown desk with a gold coloured stick in front of him on the desk.
Balwinder Dhillon was elected as Slough's new mayor on 16 May [Slough Borough Council]

A town's newly-elected mayor has been accused of sexist and homophobic behaviour prior to his election.

Slough Borough Council elected Conservative councillor Balwinder Dhillon as the town's new mayor at a meeting on 16 May.

The decision came after Labour councillors said Mr Dhillon "shouldn’t be within a million miles" of the position.

But the newly-elected mayor said he rejected the "scurrilous accusations", and was "entirely focused on doing good things for the town".

The election comes just a month after former Tory party activist Steven Gillingwater accused Mr Dhillon of using a homophobic slur against him.

Mr Gillingwater labelled the now-mayor as "Islamophobic, racist, hate-filled, homophobic".

Mr Dhillon had previously been suspended from the council for two months in 2011 after being accused of being "intimidating and insulting" towards another councillor.

On another occasion in 2005, he was made to apologise after being accused of "verbally and physically" threatening another councillor.

Mr Dhillon was elected mayor with Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors voting in favour, and Labour councillors against.

Labour councillor Christine Hulme said that residents had complained of "sexism and homophobia" from Mr Dhillon and fellow Labour councillor Mark Instone said it was a “really sad day for Slough".

“People need to be able to look up to and respect their mayor and if we end up with a mayor that we cannot respect then the whole town loses out and Slough becomes yet another joke," he said.

But deputy leader Wal Chahal said Mr Dhillon had a record of helping people "across the whole of Slough".

He said: “He is at his core a family man with strong family values underpinned by his Sikh faith which guides his life day in and day out."

Mr Dhillon said he was "honoured to be elected as First Citizen of Slough", that he would be "fair to members of all parties" and would serve with "honour and integrity".

"I refute these scurrilous accusations, and I am entirely focused on doing good things for the town and raising awareness for important causes,” he said.

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