The Fareham Labour party is urging council leader Sean Woodward to apologise for his comments regarding Violence against Women and Girls in an online discussion.

The issue arose from a Facebook post concerning parking provisions for the upcoming Fareham Live entertainment venue.

The post centred around the demolition of the Osborn Road multi-storey car park, which will be replaced by a 136-space surface car park.

Some female residents expressed concerns on the post, stating that they feel frightened and unsafe when finding alternative parking at night.

They said women can experience this fear differently from men.

In response, Cllr Woodward described the concerns as ‘really ridiculous’, ‘nonsense’ and ‘certainly not a fact’.

A Labour spokesperson said: “Despite being the Leader of Fareham Borough Council and the newly elected Chair of the Hampshire and IOW Police and Crime Panel, Mr Woodward worryingly commented, ‘You know no more about being a frightened man than I do about being a frightened woman’.

“Suppose this comment is taken at face value. In that case, it suggests that Mr. Woodward does not understand the issue of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

“Furthermore his comments could undermine current efforts by the police and crime commissioner to tackle violence against women and girls, such as the £730,000 Safer Streets Funding for this particular issue and confidence in Hampshire’s police force.”

Fareham Labour’s Women’s officer, Gemma Furnivall, said she was “very troubled” by the comments.

“It’s vital that women feel supported by their elected members on this issue and I’m afraid that you have been lacking today,” she added.

“Listening to women, hearing their concerns and acting upon them is incredibly important.

“Women are frightened, and they have good reason to be. The recent horrific cases in the news, those of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, and the rape of a young woman on the streets of Fareham just last year provide concrete evidence that women remain at risk.”

The Labour group has called for a formal apology from Cllr Woodward and requested the installation of CCTV in all council car parks, as well as improved lighting in areas leading to Fareham Live and shipping districts using the Safer Streets Fund.

In response, Cllr Woodward said the personal safety of everyone “whether male or female is a key priority for the council”.

He said: “This summer the council worked with Hampshire police to tackle anti-social behaviour in the Passage Lane area of Warsash and only last month the Council introduced onboard CCTV for taxis and private hire vehicles in Fareham to protect all those who use them.

“We have also installed CCTV cameras at The Gillies and Fareham town centre as a result of funding received from the Home Secretary’s Safer Streets Fund and additional cameras are on order for this area following additional funding being awarded by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Antisocial Behaviour Fund.

“I am disappointed that details of a conversation on Facebook have deliberately been taken out of context and are now being used by the Labour Party for political capital. That said I would like to set the record straight for absolute clarity.

“My post was about my belief that everyone has the basic right to feel safe at night and I absolutely hold to that view.

“As leader of the council I will of course continue to use my influence to ensure the very best outcomes for safety across the Borough of Fareham.”