A Hull councillor has been suspended for 20 weeks after calling members of the public who were protesting over social care cuts "retards" on Twitter.

After a debate on budget cuts at Hull City Council in February 2011, Councillor John Fareham wrote on the social media website: "15 hours in Council today very hard hitting day and the usual collection of retards in the public gallery spoiling it for real people".

Following a near year-long investigation prompted by complaints from two people, councillor Fareham was suspended last week for breaching the Council's code of conduct and he will also attend further diversity training. Chair of the sub-committee, Sheelagh Strawbridge, said: "The Committee concluded that Councillor Fareham may have caused the authority to breach equality enactments and had brought his office and the Council into disrepute."

This decision has been welcomed by trades union Unison, local residents and learning disability charity Mencap, whose head of policy, David Congdon, said "We are pleased Hull City Council has taken this matter seriously and the councillor has been strongly dealt with." However, the Conservative group leader could not attend the hearing due to an injury and has said he will be appealing the decision as he was not able to defend himself.