Probe starts into comments by UKIP councillor

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Wednesday 5.30pm: A UKIP councillor is under investigation after reportedly telling children in care that they were ‘takers’ from society.

Gordon Gillick (74), who represents his home ward of Waldersey, Wisbech, also asked the youngsters when they would ‘start giving back to society’.

A dozen complaints have been made over his ‘shameful’ comments which came as three teens in care described their experiences to councillors.

They presented a short documentary describing their difficulty adapting to new surrroundings after years in foster homes.

The session was intended to brief members of Cambridgeshire County Council on their responsibilities as ‘corporate parents’ to protect children from abuse.

But councillors were stunned when Mr. Gillick interrupted the teens and asked: “How does it feel to be takers from the system?”

He then walked out of the session, leaving the teens visibly upset.

Tory Cllr Steve Criswell, who was at the meeting, said: “His comments were demeaning and totally unwarranted and he should be ashamed of himself.

“The three young people were fine examples of how we make a difference helping them overcome adversity.”

Lib Dem leader Cllr Maurice Leeke added: “To be saying these people are, through no fault of their own, takers from the system, would be totally the opposite of what we should be doing.

“Our role should be supporting them to become worthwhile adults, not rubbishing the situation they find themselves in.”

Councillors from the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour groups have all submitted complaints.

Cambridgeshire County Council yesterday confirmed an investigation was under way.

A spokesman said: “The council has received 12 complaints against Cllr Gillick and these are now being looked at.

“It would be inappropriate for the council to comment further.”

Cllr Peter Reeve, the UKIP group leader, said he had not been at the meeting but supported his colleague.

He said: “As long as he’s being honest and transparent and saying what he believes, I’ve no problem with that.

“It may or may not be that I agree with him or that people find his views offensive, but I would rather a councillor is honest than cover up their beliefs because they are worried about it not being politically correct.”

UKIP is the third largest group on Cambridgeshire County Council with 12 members.

Another member is awaiting trial next year for alleged benefit fraud. He has pleaded not guilty.