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Councillor apologises for 'insensitive' email calling disability campaigners 'selfish'

PUBLISHED: 15:07 28 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:17 28 August 2019

"Furious and hurt" Judith and Nick Taylor from Buxton near Aylsham were shocked at the email they received from Norfolk County Councillor Margaret Stone. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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A county councillor has apologised for an "insensitive" email in which she called a couple "selfish" for their campaign against disability cuts.

Margaret Stone, Conservative member for Clavering on Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Margaret Stone, Conservative member for Clavering on Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Margaret Stone responded with an email to Judith and Nick Taylor, from Mill Street in Buxton, after they invited Conservative county councillors and MPs to a public meeting next month with disabled people and their families.

Just 12 minutes after receiving the email invite from Mr and Mrs Taylor, who have a 29-year-old son with Down's Syndrome, Mrs Stone replied with: "I would not even consider attending a meeting which is so biased as to only include Conservative county councillors. Your meetings are biased and lack credibility.

"I am increasingly disgusted in your campaign which is so selfish as to believe your needs are greater than the rest of the population."

But after being approached by email and telephone by the Eastern Daily Press, Mrs Stone, who is chairman of the council's Norfolk health overview and scrutiny committee, emailed an apology to the Buxton couple.

The Conservative south Norfolk councillor, who is currently out of the country, said: "I am very sorry that the email I sent you caused you and others such distress. I recognise fully how insensitive my words were as I know you do everything to ensure your son has the best life possible.

"As a county councillor, I receive emails from residents needing help and I should respond offering advice and support and I am sorry that I did not do this for you.

"I appreciate why you want to have this meeting with county councillors and if I am welcome, I would like to attend and meet you beforehand to apologise in person. Once again, my sincerest apologies."

Mr Taylor, 64, who runs Grange Farm in Horstead, described the apology as "quite a turnaround from the tone of her email".

He said: "I, as a parent, would be very glad to have her come to our meeting and to give her proper account of her email. Why did she write it in the first place?

"I think she wrote the email for a reason. She has only apologised because there has been a terrific backlash towards her.

"She should still stand down but she is more than welcome to come to the meeting and convince she didn't mean what she put in her email."

He added the couple have received a lot of public support.

A change.org online petition calling for Mrs Stone to be removed as chairman of the council's Norfolk health overview and scrutiny committee, as well resign from the authority, set up after the comments were made has attracted 23 signatures.

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