'What the hell?': James O'Brien skewers Dartford Council leader over food bank photo

11 May 2022, 12:08 | Updated: 11 May 2022, 12:14

'What the hell?': James O'Brien skewers Dartford Council leader over food bank photo
'What the hell?': James O'Brien skewers Dartford Council leader over food bank photo. Picture: LBC/Mayor of Dartford

By Tim Dodd

Dartford Borough Council leader Jeremy Kite called James O'Brien as he was criticising the photo of him smiling as he cut a ribbon at the opening of a food bank.

The Mayor of Dartford posted photos on Facebook of him attending the official opening of the Dartford Foodbank in the Methodist Church, Spital St.

Pictures show the Conservative leader of Dartford Borough Council Jeremy Kite cutting a ribbon on a food bank, with others smiling around him.

Prior to his show today, in response to the photo, James tweeted: "WTF are they all so happy about?"

James' reaction has come after a food poverty charity earlier this week released a damning report detailing the extent of the UK's rising crisis of food insecurity.

"Hello James, I'm the Jeremy in the photograph. I'm the leader of Dartford Borough Council," Mr Kite said.

"Fantastic. Had you had exceptionally good news before the photographer turned up?," James replied.

Mr Kite proceeded to explain his actions: "No. Let me tell you what happened James. You don't know me my friend. I love my town, I love the people in it, I'm trying to do the right thing.

"We were invited yesterday to open - it's not actually a brand new food bank, it's a new location where there's been a lot of work put into it by the volunteers and others. There was actually a bit of a joke just before the ribbon was cut and photographs will tell a snapshot of the moment."

"What was the joke?" James asked.

"I think it was about the countdown," Mr Kite replied.

James shot back: "So you did a countdown before you cut the ribbon at a facility for people who can't afford to feed themselves after 12 years of government by your party?"

In his defence, Mr Kite said: "Food banks didn't begin with a political party James, they began many years ago... [This event] was thrown by the people who organise and volunteer in the food bank."

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"Whose idea was the ribbon?" said James.

Mr Kite said the idea was "entirely the people who organised the event" and said the photos of the event were taken down because the comments on the photo had "become political for the Mayor's page" and he expected them to be posted online again.

During the exchange, James asked Mr Kite "what the hell" he was thinking, and pushed him on when the pictures would go back up on social media after they were taken down.

The council leader said "as a guest" it would have been a "mistake not to" have agreed to pose for the photo as the organisers "thought it was appropriate".

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