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County councillor blasts disability campaigners as 'selfish'

PUBLISHED: 14:58 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:09 27 August 2019

Judith and Nick Taylor from Buxton with the email they received from Norfolk County Councillor Margaret Stone. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Judith and Nick Taylor from Buxton with the email they received from Norfolk County Councillor Margaret Stone. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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A high-profile councillor who blasted a couple campaigning to stop disability funding cuts as "selfish" has been urged to resign.

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.

Judith and Nick Taylor, from Buxton, who have 29-year-old son with Down's syndrome called Charlie, invited Conservative councillors to discuss central government funding cuts to disabled adults with families and carers.

The couple, who founded the Disability Norfolk Networking Group on Facebook, are in disbelief after receiving an "offensive" response from south Norfolk councillor Margaret Stone.

Mrs Stone, chairman of the authority's health overview and scrutiny committee and former chairman of the party, said: "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."

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

The meeting requested Conservative councillors because a cross-party discussion had happened with more than 100 disabled people and their families. Conservative councillors were invited but none attended.

Mrs Taylor, 58, said: "Carers of people with disabilities are not selfish. They are the reverse - they are selfless. Mrs Stone's response shows a complete lack of empathy, awareness and compassion. If her email is a proper reflection of what she thinks she should resign."

The couple want a discussion on the impact of changes to Minimum Income Guarantee, which is paid weekly to disabled people aged 18-64 from central Government funds and has been reduced.

Andrew Proctor, Norfolk County Council leader, said: "I am sorry councillor Stone's email has caused offence and I will be picking this up with her. We have constantly lobbied government and Norfolk MPs for more funding to meet the needs of all members of our communities and this will not stop. I personally met with some of the families before the changes were brought in."

Charlie Taylor, 29, from Buxton, who has Down syndrome. Picture: JUDITH TAYLORCharlie Taylor, 29, from Buxton, who has Down syndrome. Picture: JUDITH TAYLOR

Emma Corlett, Labour county councillor for Norwich's Town Close ward, said: "Irrespective of what political party you are in you should treat members of the public with respect and compassion."

The EDP contacted Mrs Stone for a comment but she did not respond before going to press.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "We were asked - could County Hall be used for a public meeting and we explained that we don't have any rooms at County Hall that are available for meetings which are organised by members of the public.

"However, as we wished to be supportive, we said we would look at alternative venues that could cater for such a large meeting and our team in Adult Social Services have been doing that and will be getting back to the group as soon as something is booked and confirmed."

Emma CorlettEmma Corlett

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