Cllr Steven Kelly “tells dementia sufferers off for talking” at Havering Council carers’ week event, Hornchurch
Havering Council’s deputy leader Cllr Steven Kelly has been lambasted after allegedly telling dementia sufferers off for talking.
But Cllr Kelly (Conservative, Emerson Park) said his words were directed at policemen and charity workers who had been talking over a 70-year-old volunteer.
The deputy leader delivered one of three speeches at the council’s Carers’ Week Big Event in North Street Hall, North Street, Hornchurch – during which there was some noise from the audience, which included people with mental disabilities and their carers.
After the speech, Cllr Kelly shocked the group by calling them the rudest, noisiest people he had ever addressed.
A carer who was present at the event but did not wish to be named said the remarks were “totally inappropriate”.
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“Sometimes you can’t tell elderly people to be quiet and some people’s conditions mean they are a bit noisy,” he said. “After it had happened people were visibly shocked. People were in disbelief and a couple of the service providers packed up and went.”
But Cllr Kelly said the audience was disrespectful. “When a 70-year-old volunteer is treated with contempt by his peers it’s quite insulting,” he said.
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“I saw one group consisting of two policemen – who certainly don’t have hearing or talking problems – talking to a group of people from another charity for 20 minutes.
“Don’t you think when people have the courtesy to get up on a stage you should have the good manners to listen to them?”
Another witness, who also did not wish to be identified, said: “There was an audience of people with dementia, older people and people with learning disabilities – and they weren’t really listening.
“The PCSOs were there to get to know the public and talk to people, and that’s what they were doing. WWere they supposed to tell people to shut up?”
Cllr Keith Darvill (Labour, Heaton) said the remarks were “really disrespectful”.
“When you’ve got a mixed group of carers and people with learning disabilities in the same hall you just have to be able to cope with the different environment,” he said. “Carers are essential to the delivery of care for the vulnerable. Many carers work freely and without their input the cost on the borough would be much higher.
“It’s essential that they are respected.”