A RACISM row has broken out in a quintessentially Wiltshire village after teenagers were refused the chance to use a telephone box for a Black Lives Matter display.

Urchfont Parish Council was asked by a group of young people, upset by the death of George Floyd in America, if they could use the phone box to create a historical information point.

But despite impassioned please by teenagers from Youth Of Urchfont, a petition and backing from some council members their plan was turned down by five votes to three.

Emily Kinnaird from the youth group told the meeting: “Me and my friends thought it would be beneficial if Urchfont showed its support for the Black community. I think it is important to use education to raise awareness of racism especially in predominantly white Wiltshire.”

But councillors voted to support a proposal which read: “The telephone box should be used only for local community purposes, as such this proposal covering the wider issue of racism should be rejected.”

Now campaign group blminthestix has highlighted the issue in Urchfont and used it as an example of rural racism.

Blminthestix, which was set up to support UK rural communities to end racism said: “A group of young people in Wiltshire approached their local council to request turning a community phone box into a display on racism and were met with opposition that the topic was “too political.”

Parish council chairman Graham Day said: “At its meeting on 8th July 2020, Urchfont Parish Council discussed a proposal for a possible use of the High Street telephone box which is owned by the council.

“A lengthy debate on this matter took place in our established virtual meeting format, with substantial public input both from those present at the meeting and others who had submitted comments to our clerk.

“Urchfont Parish Council is a non-political body comprising 11 volunteer members. It represents the interests of all residents across the Parish.”

One member of the public, who joined the meeting via Zoom, said: “While not mentioned in the current proposal Black Lives Matter, a patently political movement is clearly the catalyst, a movement that is demonstrably contentious and of itself offers little, to enhance the lives of the Urchfont community.

“Both the previous and current request/s clearly indicate that it serves the particular interests of a specific group and therefore, regardless of merit, does not meet the criteria of applying to the broader community.”

But this week the young people won the support of Dr Anjana Khatwa who joined Wessex Museums, which includes Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, to help boost engagement with under served audiences.

She saw a Tweet by blminthestix describing what happened in Urchfont and replied: “We would love to explore how to capture their voices through engaging with WiltshireMuseum.”