A COUNCILLOR has likened her party’s cause to the discrimination experienced by black Americans as she threatened to burn down the borough in an extraordinary exchange.

Councillor Rebecca Meyer accused the leader of the borough council of not listening to minority groups such as the Andover Independents Party (AIP), of which she is a member.

She then drew comparisons between the three AIP councillors sitting on the authority and the “seven to eight percent” of Minnesotans who are black.

Speaking during Wednesday evening’s full council meeting, she also threatened to “burn” Test Valley – a claim she reiterated when quizzed by Cllr Phil North.

“Is that a threat?” asked Cllr North in response to the comment.

“Yes, it is a threat actually,” Cllr Meyer replied.

In clarification, Cllr North asked: “You’re going to threaten to burn Test Valley because you haven’t got a seat on the Project Enterprise Panel?”

Cllr Meyer went on to tell the leader he should listen to minority groups such as the AIP, whose three councillors represent around seven per cent of the authority’s total members.

“Seven to eight per cent of Minnesotans are black and look what’s happened over there,” she continued.

“You might want to listen to minorities. I’m a woman, that’s a minority. You’re a male and you’re white – that’s what 80 per cent of councillors are, that’s all I’m saying.”

The comments came as councillors discussed the membership of the Project Enterprise Panel.

Cllr North had explained that the membership of the Project Enterprise Panel was based on political balance, and with just three of the council’s 43 members representing the AIP, including one of its councillors on the panel would not reflect the overall balance.

Repsonding to the comments about minorities, Cllr North accused Cllr Meyer of putting words in his mouth, adding: “I am, quite frankly, astonished that Cllr Meyer has tried to compare the despicable murder of George Floyd in Minnesota with the Andover Independents Party not having enough seats on the council to have representation on this committee.

"She’s devalued what’s happened in the US by making that comparison quite frankly.”

Cllr David Coole, also a member of the AIP, said the make-up of the panel “does a serious disservice to minority opposition groups,” adding: “You need to listen to minority groups, they have just as much value and input as any group.”

Prior to Cllr Meyer’s comments, Cllr Coole had requested an amendment to the original motion councillors were discussing, in which AIP members would be included on the panel’s membership. The motion, however, was voted down with just three councillors – those of the AIP – supporting it.

Following the above comments, Cllr Coole then called dissent, enforcing a second vote on the panel’s membership. Again, only three councillors opposed the panel membership and the motion was passed.

Test Valley Mayor, Cllr Martin Hatley described the re-vote an “absolute waste of time”.