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Council apologises over ‘deaf and dumb’ election ban

Publisher: Pam Caulfield
Published: 04/04/2007

A council today apologised for banning “lunatics, idiots, deaf and dumb” people from standing for election in a seaside town.

The notes, issued by Bournemouth Borough Council as part of an election pack, stated that “lunatics and idiots” and “deaf and dumb persons” were disqualified from standing as councillors during the elections on May 3.

Matt Pitcher, electoral services officer at the council, said it was a mistake and that the terms were taken directly from Election Law dating back to 1766.

He said: “The terminology used as part of our election pack to candidates was unfortunately taken directly from a piece of Election Law which dates from 1766 but is still current today.

“Of course such language is certainly not acceptable today and the council recognises this should not have happened.

“Bournemouth Council treats all people fairly whatever their sexual orientation, age, religious belief, disability, gender or race and the council apologises unreservedly for any offence which may have been caused. The information pack has been amended.”

Fiona King, fundraising manager at charity Hearing Concern, criticised the council and said: “In the old, unenlightened days, people thought that because you were deaf, you couldn’t speak.

“When deaf people tried to speak without training, their voices sounded strange and so they were labelled dumb.

“The phrase deaf and dumb is a no-no because dumb now means dim and as they say, we are deaf, not daft.”

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