SOUTHEND’S community safety boss has been told to resign after posting tweets which mocked a team responsible for tackling antisocial behaviour across the borough.

Indepedent Martin Terry admitted labelling Southend Council’s community safety team as “fake cops”, “keystone cops” and “fake and unqualified security guards” in February and March and stood by the views he held at the time.

The tweets were sent before he was appointed to the ruling cabinet and he now believes the team have “all the powers they need”.

During a heated debate last night, Conservative leader Tony Cox attacked the social media posts.

The Tories questioned whether the comments were appropriate from the person who is now responsible for community safety and told council leader Ian Gilbert that Mr Terry should resign.

Mr Cox said: “I am rather alarmed by some of the portfolio holders’ comments about the community safety.

“On April 18, he called them ‘keystone cops’, on March 19 he called them ‘fake cops’, on March 19 in separate post, he called them ‘fake security guards’, on the March 15 he called them ‘unqualified security guards’ and on March 8 he called them ‘fake cops’ again.”

Fellow Tory Dan Nelson added: “The portfolio holder is clearly against this policy, yet as it is the administration’s policy and the administration is run on collective responsibility, we will be asking for councillor Terry to resign.”

Mr Terry was not at the meeting to answer for the social media posts but speaking after the meeting, he said: “Initially this was set up with a security company, they were unqualified, they had no powers whatsoever, yet it was costing the same amount as junior police officers which is why I was saying that.

“The Conservatives are mixing the two things and taking it out of context. New powers from the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) will provide the community safety team with the powers they need and I full support the team.”

Ron Woodley, leader of the Independent Group, said Mr Terry has “great respect” for council officers and the comments had been taken “out of context”.

Council leader Mr Gilbert said: “The idea that I am going to ask for councillor Terry’s resignation for something he said before I appointed him to the portfolio is frankly ridiculous.

“Councillor Terry voted for the creation of the community safety team on several occasions.

“I can’t answer for what he said on Twitter but there were things about the way it was set up using private security instead of council employees which is not how we’d have liked to have seen it done.

“Now the situation is fundamentally different.”

He added it is the view of the administration that the community safety team is “a very good thing” and that everyone has said things on Twitter which do not represent their actual views.

The discussion took place during a policy and resources scrutiny committee, when councillors debated whether to back the introduction of a Public Space Protection Order that would crack down on things such as aggressive begging, sleeping on the streets, rogue charity collectors.

A final decision on the scheme will be made during a full council meeting and if it is approved, the enforcement powers will be handed to the community safety team.