The following statements have been shared in response to comments made at the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 25 January 2024.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council
“Following councillor comments made at the meeting of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 25 January 2024 I would like to reassure you that those views and the language used are not representative of this Council, its wider councillors and staff or our commitment to children and young people especially those with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities and their families.
“I am so sorry for the distress this situation has caused, particularly to SEND children and their families.”
Monica Fogarty, Chief Executive, Warwickshire County Council
“I would like to offer reassurance that the County Council is taking this extremely seriously. An investigation is underway, and we need to allow time for that to be completed.
“So much good work has been done over recent years in collaboration with the SEND community and we remain determined to continue to improve life opportunities for children and young people and deliver on our commitment to support children with SEND to thrive.”
In addition, a statement has been issued to the media:
Warwickshire County Council has received a number of complaints. These complaints centre around comments made by three councillors during a meeting of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 25 January 2024.
It is clear that these comments have caused significant offence, distress and upset to children and their families within the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) community. The Council takes that very seriously.
The Council wishes to emphasise that the comments made are not representative of the views of the wider council body including those councillors and officers who work so hard to provide support and opportunities for children with SEND. The Council has built strong relationships with groups within the SEND community, and we are conscious of the damage this situation may cause to those relationships.
The complaints received will be considered as part of an investigation which the Council’s Monitoring Officer has begun. Whilst that investigation gets underway it is important that The Council also acknowledges the scale of the upset and to that end those councillors involved wish to apologise personally for their comments.
Councillor Jeff Morgan said “As a former Cabinet Member and councillor of nine years I regret any offence caused by my choice of words. It was never my intention to offend, and I regret the words I used to make a point about demand and need in the SEND area. I remain committed to the children and families of Warwickshire.”
Councillor Brian Hammersley said “I apologise unreservedly for the comments which I made at the recent Scrutiny Committee. I regret my clumsiness and lack of care in choosing my words and can see the upset and offence they caused. I am terribly sorry and will be more thoughtful with my questions and words in future. I can see that I have some learning to do.”
Councillor Clare Golby said “I accept that the words I used at the meeting were open to interpretation. I have spent many years working hard to support children and families in the SEND community and it was never my intention to offend. I apologise for any offence caused.”
The Chief Executive has emphasised the importance of the Investigation for which the findings and outcomes will be communicated as soon as it is complete. This matter is being prioritised.