Complaints dismissed against county councillors following controversial SEND comments - The Leamington Observer

Complaints dismissed against county councillors following controversial SEND comments

Ian Hughes 14th Jun, 2024   0

COUNCILLORS accused of ‘offensive and ignorant’ comments about children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) have been cleared of breaching Warwickshire County Council’s code of conduct.

Conservative councillors Jeff Morgan, Brian Hammersley and Clare Golby sparked widespread anger and hundreds of complaints following their remarks at a Children’s and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny committee meeting in January.

Coun Brian Hammersley questioned the increase in SEND diagnoses by asking if there was “something in the water”, and suggested a return to the days of institutionalisation in the 60s and 70s.

Coun Jeff Morgan was sceptical about accepting children had ADHD, suggesting they were “just really badly behaved and need some form of strict correction”.

And Coun Clare Golby spoke about websites where “families are swapping tips on how to get their children diagnosed,” adding: “What comes down to parenting, and what comes down to SEND issues?”

Although the trio were quick to apologise for their remarks following the backlash, WCC announced an independent investigation.

It was carried out by an external independent lawyer who has now concluded none of the comments breached the authority’s code of conduct.

But it did conclude the comments of Coun Hammersley and Coun Morgen were both disrespectful, did not champion the needs of the parents and families of children with SEND, and had caused reputational damage to themselves and to WCC.

Responding to the findings, a WCC spokesperson said: “This has been a difficult and lengthy process, and we would like to thank everyone who contributed to the investigation. We want to reassure residents that a thorough investigation has been undertaken and the views of all complainants were considered as part of that process.

“We continue to work hard to build on the relationship we have with Warwickshire families, and we remain committed to working in partnership to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families in Warwickshire.”

A spokesperson for SEND Crisis Warwickshire said the councillors’ comments were ‘discriminatory and stigmatising’.

Click here to read the reports findings in full.

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