Conservatives suspend Norfolk county councillor who called disabled man’s parents ‘selfish’

PUBLISHED: 16:17 23 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:12 24 September 2019

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

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

Norfolk Conservatives

A county councillor who is being investigated for remarks she made to the parents of a disabled man has been suspended from her Conservative group.

A formal Norfolk County Council investigation was launched after more than 30 complaints about Conservative councillor Margaret Stone.

The council's monitoring officer decided to refer the complaints for investigation.

And it has now emerged that Mrs Stone was suspended by the group at a group meeting on Friday.

Council leader Andrew Proctor confirmed the suspension.

He said it was a "neutral act" while it is established whether she broke the Tory group rules.

Mrs Stone has already apologised and resigned as chairman of the health overview and scrutiny committee over the 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".

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The council's standards investigation, which is separate to the Tory group's own process, will involve the monitoring officer and an independent person.

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.

The email came after 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.

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, had apologised for her remarks by email and again at a meeting at County Hall last week, where disabled people urged councillors to rethink the changes and stop further cuts hitting the vulnerable.

Mrs Stone was not present at this day's county council meeting where the impact of the changes was discussed.

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