Councillor's parting shot over 'cruel and callous' disabled charges

Tim East, Norfolk County Councillor for Costessey. Picture: Bill Smith

Tim East, departing Liberal Democrat county councillor for Costessey. - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

A county councillor stepping down after 38 years has used his final meeting to say he fears Norfolk disabled people could be in a worse position than when he was elected almost four decades ago.

Liberal Democrat Tim East has represented Costessey at Norfolk County Council since 1997 and was previously a South Norfolk district councillor for Old Costessey from 1983 until 2015.

But, at a meeting of the full county council on Monday, Mr East, himself registered disabled, criticised the way the county council has handled changes to the minimum income guarantee.

In February 2019, the Conservative-controlled council agreed to change the minimum income guarantee - used to assess how much people paid for their care.

Disabled people, their parents and carers gathered at a public meeting at County Hall last year. Pic

Disabled people, their parents and carers gathered at a public meeting at County Hall. - Credit: Philip Williams

However, a legal challenge launched by a young woman with Down's Syndrome went to the High Court - and a judge ruled the council had acted unlawfully and had discriminated against them in an unforeseen and unintended way.

That led to a partial reversion and a pledge to pay some money back to 3,200 people, while the council continues to review the policy and address the judgement.

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But the JR Implementation and Monitoring group, a task force of disabled people, scrutinising what the council is doing, says less than a third of people have been paid back so far.

And Mr East, who is not seeking re-election in the county council elections on May 6, used his last question at County Hall to say: "After 38 years as a locally elected councillor for Costessey, I do not want people with disabilities to be in a worse position than when I started as a county councillor in 1997."

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He said: "How can it be right for the council to still be taking money from people who will never be able to take paid work due to their disability and what do you say to those people who consider your administration to be cruel and callous?"

Andrew Proctor has sent a scathing letter to the Planning Inspectorate over its decision to allow 17

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

Andrew Proctor, Conservative leader of the council, said he would not want his administration to be remembered in the way Mr East described and said he did not believe they were "cruel and callous".

He said work to address the issues raised by the judgement was ongoing and the council was working with disabled people.

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