MP slams 'if you've got it, flaunt it' comment on explicit monkey costume

Complaints flood in from Redbridge libraries event

MP Wes Streeting has written to Vision's chief executive to complain about an alleged comment made about the inappropriate animal costume sanctioned for a recent children's event. - Credit: Has Ahmed

MPs have criticised Redbridge Libraries for the "inappropriate" monkey costume worn at an event to promote children's reading, including an alleged comment of "if you've got it, flaunt it" on social media.

As reported by the Recorder, numerous complaints were made by residents about the costume featuring genitalia at Redbridge Central Library, which was used as part of a performance to encourage children to read.

The performance was stopped when the complaints were recieved, and a full investigation has now been launched.

Redbridge Council; Vision RCL, which runs the library; and Mandinga Arts, which ran the event, have all apologised about the incident.

Vision RCL said the event does not reflect its values and was an isolated incident.

In a letter written on July 12 to Vision's chief executive Iain Varah, Ilford North MP Wes Streeting demanded "consequences for this appalling lapse in judgement".


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He also queried a comment posted on social media by Redbridge Libraries before the controversy took hold, which read "when you've got it, flaunt it I suppose".

This newspaper has seen an apparent screenshot which appears to verify the comment made.

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Ilford South MP Sam Tarry added the incident was "deeply upsetting and completely unacceptable".

He said: "I have written to the chief executive of Vision to convey my disgust.

“Vision has spectacularly failed to assess what is appropriate for children and families, and what is not, and my office has unsurprisingly been inundated with complaints from parents who were shocked and appalled by what they witnessed."

Leader of Redbridge Council Jas Athwal said: "We share the view that the event was entirely inappropriate and deeply offensive.

“I have ordered a full and thorough investigation into how external contractor, Vision, commissioned the performers, oversaw the event and operated their social media on Saturday.

Complaints flood in from Redbridge libraries event

The event was stopped after complaints were received, and Redbridge Council has since released an official statement regarding the incident. - Credit: Has Ahmed

“The Redbridge Libraries Twitter account was operated by external contractor Vision - not by Redbridge Council.”

In his letter to Mr Varah, Mr Streeting also stressed this incident occurred in a borough library that is "hugely valued by the local community".

Pointing to the fact that the council hasn't allowed a library closure in 11 years - "despite swingeing cuts leading to widespread closures all over the country" - Mr Streeting demanded reassurance that Vision "understands its responsibility".

The leader of Redbridge Conservative Group, Linda Huggett, made clear her dismay in an email written to Cllr Athwal after the incident.

In that email, Cllr Huggett also claimed that some residents who tried to complain to the leader were "blocked and dismissed" - but Cllr Athwal has denied this.

A Vision RCL spokesperson said it "supports the statement" made by Cllr Athwal and is conducting its own investigation.

"The trust commissioned a nationally reputed arts company to perform at a live event within some of the libraries we operate across the borough," they said. "The performance, which had been previously staged by the arts company across the UK, featured a performer in a costume that was inappropriate for our audience.

"This event does not reflect our values; and represents an isolated case in what typically sees Vision deliver over 100 community-focused events every year.

"We are taking immediate action to review the decisions taken around this specific event, including a full review of our commissioning, policies and procedures."

They gave an "unreserved apology" to the community and "will do all we can to regain trust in both Vision RCL and the Library Service".





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