Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Mayor of Swindon resigns over derogatory comments about people with disabilities

Richard Hawkes ScopeThe Mayor of Swindon, councillor Nick Martin, has resigned after making derogatory remarks about people with disabilities.

Conservative Martin was found guilty of breaching the members’ code of conduct after Labour councillors complained about comments he made in October last year in a closed training meeting for councillors in which no members of the public were present. He was working in his capacity as a councillor at the time.

Labour councillors Ray Ballman and Junab Ali made the complaint after they allegedly heard him say: “Are we still letting Mongols have sex with each other?”

Following this, an independent investigation by Swindon Borough Council’s Standards Committee concluded that Martin had been in breach of conduct when he made his alleged remarks.

Martin was called upon to apologise – which he has – and undertake further training within a fortnight. The decision to resign as Mayor was his own.

In his resignation letter to the council, Martin said that he accepted the findings of the Standards Committee, has made new apologies and was abiding by the other recommendations from the committee.

“However, it is clear that this will not stop the attacks on the Office and person of Mayor,” he wrote. “Therefore, I deem it best for the people of Swindon to resign.”

Councillor David Renard, leader of Swindon Borough Council and the Conservative Group, said: “The Group believes that it was the correct decision by Councillor Martin to stand down, following representations to him by Group members.”

“Deep-seated ignorance”

Prior to his resignation, Richard Hawkes (pictured), chief executive of disability charity Scope, had called for Martin to apologise for his language. “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.”

Hawkes added that with his office comes a responsibility to represent all of his constituents.

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