A MELKSHAM councillor has been criticised by his town’s MP for posting an offensive message about Muslim women on his personal Facebook page.

Mike Sankey, a Tory councillor who represents Melksham South, has been accused of offending members of the town’s growing Muslim community with his Facebook post about Saudi Arabian women being given permission to drive.

He posted a joke from the BBC One TV show Have I Got News For You which referred to the new right to drive and the country’s controversial penalty of stoning.

Cllr Sankey has since deleted the post on his Facebook page and has so far declined to comment.

But Conservative MP for Chippenham Michelle Donelan, who represents Melksham, said: “The post is both offensive and in the poorest of taste. To make light of the suffering of others only acts to trivialise the issue and is entirely inappropriate.”

The Wiltshire Times understands that some of the town’s 100-plus Muslim community have found the post shameful. Publicly, the Imam of Melksham Mosque, Gias Udin, of the Refa Tandoori restaurant in Market Place, said: “We don’t wish to make any comment.”

Some Melksham town councillors described Cllr Sankey as an “idiot” for putting up the posting. Others said he is a good and hard-working councillor.

Cllr Jon Hubbard, of the Liberal Democrats in Wiltshire, said: “It’s an inappropriate thing to post on Facebook. It’s just irresponsible. I think it right that Cllr Sankey has chosen to delete the post that he had shared.”

Cllr Martin Pain said: “Cllr Sankey has explained that he only wanted to highlight the irony of Saudi women being allowed to drive, whilst still being vulnerable to all the other restrictions and often dangerous impositions based solely upon the fact that they are women.

“I think that the best solution would be for Mike and myself to meet with the leaders of Melksham’s Muslim community to set up a regular two-way channel of communications.”