UPDATE: Nick Martin resigns as Mayor, councillors and Scope react
Swindon Mayor Nick Martin has officially resigned from the post this morning in the wake of a scandal over remarks he made about disabled people.
The Shaw ward councillor said he was considering his position last week after an inquiry by the standards committee found he had made a derogatory comment in a meeting last October.
Coun Martin has come under immense pressure to resign from the post of mayor after being asked to apologise for using derogatory language towards disabled people.
In the meeting, overheard by several other councillors, he said: “Are we still letting those Mongols have sex with each other?”
A standards committee investigation found the mayor to be in breach of the Members’ Code of Conduct because of what he said and ordered him to apologise.
In a letter to Swindon Council's Borough Solicitor Stephen Taylor, Coun Martin said:
"It is with regret that I submit my resignation as Mayor of the Borough of Swindon with immediate effect.
"Following the accusations against me, I have cooperated with the independent Standards investigation, I have accepted the findings, I have made new apologies and am abiding by the other recommendations from the Standards Assessment Panel.
"However, it is clear that this will not stop the attacks on the Office and person of Mayor. Therefore, I deem it best for the people of Swindon to resign.
"Yours sincerely, Coun Nick Martin".
Deputy Mayor Teresa Page will carry out mayoral duties until formally taking the position in June.
Leader of the Council David Renard and the Conservative Group said in a statement: "As we said at the Special Council in December, the Conservative Group wanted the Standards Committee to complete its independent investigation.
"It has now done this, and Councillor Martin has accepted its findings and is meeting the three requirements it made of him.
"The Group believes that it was the correct decision by Councillor Martin to stand down, following representations to him by Group Members.
"The Conservative Group stands by the Standards process. If Members are found in breach of the Code, we expect them to meet any conditions set out; where Members are exonerated, we consider the matter resolved. Anything further on the issue of the Mayoralty is a matter for the individual concerned."
Coun Mark Dempsey (Lab, Walcot & Park North) also released a statement reacting to the news. It read: "People across Swindon have recoiled in horror when they have read or heard the deeply offensive comments made by Nick Martin.
"The CEO of Scope, the national disability charity said that these comments show a ‘deep-seated ignorance towards disabled people’.
"In my view these comments were deeply disrespectful and offensive towards people with learning disabilities.
"That’s is why I called for Nick Martin to stand down as Mayor. In my view he should have apologised and resigned a long time ago.
"I am disappointed that the Conservatives supported Nick Martin and did not act to remove him. I think they have shown that they are out of touch and it has been extremely damaging to the town’s reputation."
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said:
"This wasn't just about political correctness and using the wrong words.
"The mayor insinuated that there is something wrong with disabled people having sex with each other.
"Disturbingly, his outdated comments showed a lack of acceptance that disabled people have sex lives, which can be just as fulfilling - or unfulfilling - as anyone else's.
"The outcry following the mayor's comments show that the general public don't condone this kind of deep-seated ignorance towards disabled people."
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