Middlesbrough Councillor David Smith
Middlesbrough Councillor David Smith (Credit: Middlesbrough Council)

Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, UK – A politician who called for a “gender-neutral town” – including conversion of all restrooms in council buildings to mixed-sex facilities – has resigned from his party in disgrace amidst accusations that he sexually assaulted a child.

30-year-old Cllr David Smith, elected in May to represent Coulby Newham on Middlesbrough Council, became the darling of the local transgender activist community when, during a June 18 meeting, he successfully persuaded Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston to convert restrooms to gender-neutral. The win represented the first step in a longterm plan to make all public-use facilities, including changing rooms, mixed-sex.

“Through my time interacting with local transgender and non-binary people, I’ve seen first hand the difficulties faced by these individuals when accessing public toilets and changing rooms,” Cllr Smith declared in a statement earlier that month.

“Across the country, pubs, shopping centres, universities and schools are becoming gender neutral to ensure our transgender and non binary family and friends feel safe when using the facilities. This is an opportunity for our town to lead the way for local authorities and I call on the mayor, the executive and my fellow councillors to back this initiative.”

At the time, Cllr Smith quickly dismissed concerns about women’s and girls’ safety and privacy, as the primary victims of voyeurism and other sex crimes in restrooms.

“This is about creating a much more safer environment for transgender and non binary people,” he insisted. “I understand, clearly, there will be some concerns from some councillors and members of the public, but the risk does not increase once public toilets become gender neutral. In fact, if anyone has any intention in committing a crime at present, they will do so.

LGBT charity Hart Gables threw passionate support behind Cllr Smith: “Hart Gables have been proactive in encouraging organisations to have gender natural toilets. Therefore we would support this action within council buildings. It is within our training packages that we discuss the use of gender neutral toilets, and encourage services to have toilets that are accessible to all.”

Councillor David Smith
Councillor David Smith

A spokesperson for Cleveland Police announced that Cllr Smith has been charged with nine counts of sexual activity with a child. He is expected to appear at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on August 7.

Cllr Smith, who said he intends to continue in his role as councillor, issued a statement announcing his resignation from his party: “I am writing to inform you I am resigning from the Conservative Party and the Middlesbrough Council Conservative group with immediate effect in light of the allegations that have been made against me.” He declared the allegations “spurious,” and has vowed to clear his name.

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