Standards investigation launched after Norfolk county councillor’s email remarks

Margaret Stone, Conservative county councillor. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Margaret Stone, Conservative county councillor. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

A formal investigation has been launched after remarks made by a Norfolk county councillors triggered more than 30 complaints.

Judith and Nick Taylor, from Buxton. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Judith and Nick Taylor, from Buxton. Picture: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

Conservative councillor Margaret Stone resigned as chairman of the health overview and scrutiny committee after an email she sent.

She had told Judith and Nick Taylor, who have a son with Down's Syndrome and have been campaigning against care cost changes the council brought in, that the Buxton couple were "selfish as to believe their needs are greater than the rest of the population".

A council spokesman said: "The council has received a number of complaints regarding a potential breach of the code of conduct.

"These complaints are being investigated as part of our standards committee process, which will involve our monitoring officer and an independent person."

The council said it could not comment further to avoid the risk of prejudicing proceedings.

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Earlier this year, the Conservative-controlled council agreed changes to the minimum income guarantee, which reduces a weekly allowance disabled people get.

Another change means a benefit, the enhanced element of personal independence payments, is now taken into account when assessing care.

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Combined, it means about 1,000 people are having to pay more for care and 1,400 are paying for care for the first time.

The council said the changes would save £4m from an under-pressure budget and bring Norfolk in line with other authorities.

Mrs Stone, who represents Clavering, apologised for her remarks by email and again at a meeting at County Hall this week, where disabled people urged councillors to rethink the changes and stop further cuts hitting the vulnerable.

But the council's monitoring officer decided to refer the complaints for investigation. It could lead to a conclusion that the members code of conduct has been breached, which could trigger a hearing before the council's standards committee.

And if the hearing concludes there was a breach it could lead to censure or other recommendations, such as removal from committees or a requirement to undergo training.

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