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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Guillotine word 'out of context'
The former deputy mayor of Swindon has been offered some qualified support, after his comments about disabled children led to his resignation.

Councillor Owen Lister quit the post and left the Tory group, after using the word "guillotine" whilst talking about youngsters needing special care.

Mr Lister, a retired GP, maintains his words were taken out of context.

The Swindon Coalition for Disabled People said the language was "wrong", but that he raised interesting points.

He has raised issue about home-based services and the borough's priorities
Joe Backshall
Swindon Coalition of Disabled People

He has admitted using the word guillotine during a Children's Overview Task Group meeting, but said that he had been referring to fears that links with children's families would be severed.

"We were discussing the movement or the placing of disabled children, outside the borough at a home in Cornwall and it seemed to me that this was really a terrible state of affairs, he said.

"We were packing these children off, probably whose only bond was with their mothers, and cutting them off from that for the remainder of their lives.

"I was horrified by this and clearly it is being done for financial convenience, it doesn't make it any less desirable.

'Wrong words'

"The words that were going through my mind were that they were being cut off from their parents.

"I wanted to stress that fact so instead of being cut off I used the term 'guillotine' and I think that is what has caused all the trouble because it has been suggested that I was guillotining the children, but what I was suggesting was being guillotined was the relationship between children and parents."

Joe Backshall, from the Swindon Coalition of Disabled People, said he preferred integration as a policy for disabled children, but accepted this was not always possible.

He added: "I think Dr Lister did use the wrong words in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"He is someone who has a distinguished career as a doctor and is generally concerned about disabled people.

Individual needs

"He has raised issue about home-based services and the borough's priorities, however."

At any one time, around 30 to 40 children may be cared for at specialist centres outside the town, says the Borough Council.

Councillor Ian Dobie, responsible for Social Services in Swindon, said provision depended on the needs of the individual.

"On a one-to-one basis, it is not necessarily financially viable to set up a complete operation for one child.

"A provider may have a facility to deal with five children, which keeps their costs down. We couldn't necessarily set up something like that in Swindon if we couldn't fill it."

Deputy mayor resigns over remarks
22 Sep 05 |  Wiltshire
Deputy mayor 'sorry' over remarks
22 Sep 05 |  Wiltshire

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