The Lead Member with responsibility for Equalities has asked Wrexham Council officers to arrange training with a local mental health charity – with another councillor explaining his comments, which he says were aimed at ‘disturbing’ remarks made at the planning committee.
Earlier this week Wrexham.com reported on a planning application that saw a proposal refused for a low secure unit and housing development in Gwersyllt, which contained comments made by several councillors in the meeting.
You can view one section that many have found objectionable 14mins 30 seconds into the webcast on this link.
Cllr Andrew Atkinson, Executive Board member with responsibility for equalities has responded to the criticism raised about members at Monday night’s Planning committee, describing what was said by some councillors as “unacceptable”.
He said: “I, alongside my colleagues on the Executive Board, am very aware of the comments and concerns raised following Monday night’s meeting during which some members did not seem to consider the impact and effects their words would have especially towards the most vulnerable in our community.
“It is unacceptable for these stigmas to exist. I will be working to make sure that we treat all people equally and with dignity and respect.”
Cllr Atkinson added: “I believe that members will benefit from training with a local mental health charity who can advise on how we can all assist residents with mental health issues either in our ward work, when we are in meetings and in our decision making.
“I have asked officers to arrange for this training to take place as a matter of urgency.”
Comments made in the meeting report by three councillors met with disapproval by many who read it, attended or watched the webcasting of the meeting. Yesterday we extended the quotations, including webcasting links, and included comment from the Leader of Wrexham Council who was unimpressed by what he saw.
Late last night Cllr Graham Rogers got in touch to clarify his comments, which revolved around wanting those who had been in the unit to be ‘returned back to their own surroundings’, adding that if that did not happen ‘we could end up with more trouble on our hands.
Cllr Rogers told us: “I have been contacted by some members of the public with concerns about comments made by a number of Councillors at Monday evening’s Planning Meeting.
“I suggested a Planning Condition that would mean “once the person, or persons, have received their treatment they are returned back to their own surroundings”.
“This was in support of the comments made by WCBC Officers within Children and Adult Social Services, on pages 40 to 42 and 49 of the report, whereby this facility could impact current provision to local services in Wrexham as referrals into the facility will most likely come from North Wales with the potential of a much wider catchment.
“Officers themselves had raised concerns that following treatment, the patients would be discharged into the local area and this would put additional pressures on Council budgets and current provision.
“My comment regarding ‘more trouble on our hands’ was very much aimed at those councillors who were, in my opinion, causing trouble and fuelling the fire during the Planning Meeting.”
“I found the comments made by Cllr Warburton very disturbing. I apologise for not being clearer in expressing my views at the time of the debate.”
You can watch the entire agenda item with all councillor comments and debate on the Wrexham Council webcast by clicking here.