Mayor castigated for disabled views
LEADING disability charity Scope has said that Swindon mayor Nick Martin needs to apologise for more than his offensive language.
Last week Councillor Martin (Con, Shaw) was ordered to issue an unreserved apology within seven days and attend a training course after a Swindon Council assessment panel found he had breached the Members’ Code of Conduct.
Last year a formal complaint was made against Coun Martin after he said: “They aren’t still letting those mongols have sex with each other are they?”
Although the mayor accepted the outcome and apologised for using an offensive word, Richard Hawkes, chief executive of Scope, said that Coun Martin has much more than his words to apologise for.
In a statement, he said: “The Mayor has missed the point, because there are two issues here.
“Of course he should apologise for using this offensive term.
“But this isn’t just about political correctness and using the wrong words.
“Disturbingly, he has insinuated that there is something wrong with disabled people having sex with each other.
“This is about deep-seated ignorance towards disabled people and a lack of acceptance that disabled people have sex lives, which can be just as fulfilling – or unfulfilling – as anyone else’s.
“The Mayor’s public apology needs to acknowledge that it is more than just his words that are at fault.
“And that with his office, comes a responsibility to represent all of his constituents.”
The Leader of the Council, David Renard, also spoke out following the news, explaining that he had no control over the appointment of the mayor.
He said: “The office of Mayor is appointed by the elected members who make up the whole council, and not individually by the Leader of the Council.
“It’s not something I have any authority over. What the Mayor decides to do now is entirely a matter for him.
“There has been an independent report into the complaints that were made, a panel which included independent people has examined that report, and the panel has made its recommendations, which I believe the Mayor intends to comply with. The correct process has been followed and it has reached a conclusion.”
The offending comment has attracted condemnation from senior MPs, including Eric Pickles and Harriet Harman in recent months, and last December he survived a vote of no-confidence.
The mayor has also been asked to apologise to Coun Junab Ali (Lab, Central) after not allowing him into the Mayor’s Chamber during a formal visit and in 2012 he was asked to write a letter of apology to a council officer after offending her.
He was also asked to apologise to a member of the public.
Following his public apology Coun Martin also announced that he was considering standing down from office in order to help with campaigning in the upcoming local elections.
- A demo is being held later today calling for the mayor to stand down. The Swindon People’s Assembly will be holding the protest outside the council offices at 4.30pm. A statement on the group’s Facebook page read: “The Swindon People’s Assembly will stage a peaceful protest against Swindon Mayor Nick Martin. His disgraceful comments against disabled people and his subsequent forced apology are simply not acceptable! We demand nothing less than his immediate resignation!”
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