Councillors kicked off committee for ‘offensive and ignorant’ comments about special needs children - The Rugby Observer

Councillors kicked off committee for ‘offensive and ignorant’ comments about special needs children

Rugby Editorial 12th Feb, 2024   0

THE COUNCILLORS who made ‘offensive and ignorant’ comments about children with special needs have been removed from a committee – but will not be dismissed ‘at this moment in time’.

Warwickshire County Council’s (WCC) Conservative leader Izzi Seccombe told BBC Politics Midlands at the weekend she would not be removing the whip from Tory Councillors Brian Hammersley, Jeff Morgan and Clare Golby for the time being.

However, she confirmed they would be taken off the Children’s and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Panel, and said she was implementing a programme of ‘training, development and education’.

In the past week, over 28,300 people have signed a petition calling for their dismissal, and SEND Crisis Warwickshire (SCW) organised a protest at WCC’s Shire Hall HQ in Warwick calling for the councillors to be sacked.

The petition was started by Melvyna Hawes, a Warwickshire parent to an autistic six-year-old.

She said: “I am deeply troubled by the actions of this local council.

“This discriminatory viewpoint is unacceptable from those who hold public office. Their words reflect a broader issue within our council where SEN funding is regarded as a last priority.

“My son is non-verbal and currently out of school because no mainstream school can accommodate his needs, yet there are no available places at SEND provisions. This situation affects many families in Warwickshire.

“We demand that Warwickshire Council immediately dismiss Councillors Morgan, Golby, and Hammersley for their discriminatory remarks against SEND children.

“Furthermore, we insist on an immediate review of how SEND funding is prioritised within the council’s budget allocations.”

At the WCC Children’s and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Meeting last month, Coun Hammersley asked if rising SEND diagnoses were due to “something in the water”, and suggested a return to the days of institutionalisation.

Coun Morgan suggested some children with ADHD were “just really badly behaved and need some form of strict correction”.

And Coun Golby said: “What comes down to parenting, and what comes down to SEND issues?”

The councillors have since apologised for the comments.

Acknowledging the comments caused ‘significant offence, distress and upset’ to families in the SEND community, WCC has distanced itself from the councillors’ remarks.

WCC Chief Executive Monica Fogarty said an investigation was underway, and the findings would be communicated as soon as it was complete.

A spokesperson for SCW said the councillors’ comments were ‘discriminatory and stigmatising’.

They added: “None of us who are caring for and raising a disabled child or child with additional care, support or learning needs ‘want’ or ‘choose’ this life. None of us are doing it for kicks, specialist treatment, attention or a golden ticket.”

They said government cuts, austerity measures and the cost-of-living crisis had left Local Authorities ‘hamstrung’ in addressing SEND needs.

Visit to sign the petition.


Weddings, Birthdays, Bereavements, Thank you notices, Marriages and more.


Advertise with the Rugby Observer to reach your audience


Receive a weekly update to your inbox by signing up to our weekly newsletter.

Reader Travel

Check out all of the latest reader travel offers to get your hands on some free gifts.