Top councillor quits amid storm over ‘offensive’ comments to carers

PUBLISHED: 15:25 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:09 29 August 2019

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.

Norfolk Conservatives

A disgraced county councillor has resigned from a leading committee after branding a couple “selfish” for organising a disability cuts meeting.

"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

Conservative member Margaret Stone, who represents the Clavering ward in south Norfolk, was chairman of the council's Norfolk health overview and scrutiny committee.

She stood down on Thursday, August 29, five days after making the remarks to Buxton couple Nick and Judith Taylor, who have a 29-year-old son with Down's syndrome.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "I can confirm that Margaret Stone has stood down as chairman of the Norfolk health overview and scrutiny committee."

He added that Mrs Stone, from Hempnall, was to continue being a county councillor.

Mr and Mrs Taylor invited Mrs Stone, as well as other Conservative county councillors and Norfolk MPs, via email to discuss the impact of funding cuts for disabled adults.

The meeting was due to be held on September 17 with disabled people across Norfolk along with their carers and their families.

The couple only invited Conservatives because they and other families had already discussed the issue with Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent members of Norfolk County Council.

But 12 minutes after the email went out, Mrs Stone responded 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."

Mrs Taylor, 58, described the response as offensive.

Following the backlash from county councillors, Mrs Stone sent an email apology to Mr and Mrs Taylor.

She 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."

Mr Taylor, 64, said: "We welcome her resignation. We didn't see how she could reconcile her original views with her apology. We would like her to come to the meeting."

Following the email incident, Sandra Squire, Independent group leader on the council, has written to council leader Andrew Proctor urging him to implement compulsory disability awareness training for all members.

Mrs Squire, who represents the Marshland North Division, said in the letter which was published on Twitter: "If one good thing can come from this whole debacle, which has tarred Norfolk councillors as arrogant and uncaring purely by association, let it be that we learnt something from this and can vow to do better in future."

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