Deaf Councillor David Buxton asks council for more support

The Epsom Guardian reports:

A deaf councillor is being forced to spend a lot of his own money on sign language interpreters in order to fulfil his duties to his constituents.

Lib Dem Councillor David Buxton, who is believed to be the only deaf councillor in the UK using interpreters, says that he pays up to £300 a month for their services, despite only getting £160 a month in expenses from the council.

Epsom and Ewell council’s website recommends that councillors meet with “key local stakeholders” and “deal with all residents enquiries.”

It pays for interpreters for all council meetings, working groups, civic occasions and formal ward surgeries – but is refusing to pick up the bill for other events Coun Buxton attends such as non-official residents meetings.

However the council says that it has contacted the Disability Rights Commission and is fulfilling its obligations under equalities legislation.

Coun Buxton, who represents Court Ward, and is the chief executive of the British Deaf Association which raises awareness of deaf issues , said: “It is very difficult to manage as a councillor with a disability.

“I want to represent my community and campaign, but it is costing me a lot of money to do so.

“The council should do more to help, especially at local resident’s group meetings. The council feels these groups should pay for signers, but they don’t have any funding at all and are voluntary.

“All I want to do is have a full communication with my residents as their local councillor and at the moment I don’t feel this is the case.”

Lib Dem leader Julie Morris said that the money available to Coun Buxton is simply not enough to perform his role as an active councillor as set out on the council’s “how to be a councillor” section of the website.

She said: “The reality is that if he wants to be a good and active councillor he is going to have to fund it himself.

“It is difficult because he is having to pay a lot of money to do his role – far more than any other councillor.”

Back in September, Councillor Buxton spoke in the diversity debate at Liberal Democrat Conference, highlighting the difficulties he faces as a Deaf politician. His speech, which was translated from British Sign Language to English, was featured on BBC’s See Hear, a magazine show for the Deaf community.

Video also available on the BBC website.

Read more by or more about , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • patricia roche 26th Apr '11 - 3:06pm

    This situation must not continue. Democracy is best served by diversity.

  • This is a disgrace and the council concerned should be ashamed.

    As for them saying

    “the council says that it has contacted the Disability Rights Commission and is fulfilling its obligations under equalities legislation.” –

    the Disability Rights Commission no longer exists so how can they have consulted with it? The body which was formerly the DRC is now one of the three former Commissions which now make up the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

    This Councillor has a right to whatever enables him to do his job effectively, and a signing (BSL) interpreter is essential in ALL the activities in which he takes part.

    Perhaps the council concerned would care to think about not spending vast amounts of money on “councillors jollies” and trips abroad and pay for the essentials instead.

    There are expenses and NECESSARY expenses – I would suggest that the provision of a full time BSL interpreter is a necessary expense – the “jollies” are not!

    The councillor concerned should perhaps take his case to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission himself indicating that his council is not providing him with full and necessary facilities with which to fulfil his job as a councillor in a satisfactory manner. I think that the EHRC would be telling a different story then!

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • David Evans
    Andrew, I think you are slightly mistaken - We need 14.6% swing to win in Chesham and Amersham. The sadly now lost Brecon and Radnor by Election only swung by ...
  • Jeff
    Peter Martin 13th May '21 - 8:36am: I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to Tony Benn but his main criticism concerns the lack of democracy in th...
  • David Evans
    Indeed David, The loyalty to some inappropriate mechanism, designed to make life easier for the PM (whose ministers are tied to whatever he wants) and for burea...
  • Mohamed
    It is the biggest mistake not to optimise Dan Gallagher 14500 votes +13.3% in the last General election by letting him stand again.after all he is Local and can...
  • David Raw
    And......... If you want to know about snake oil salesmen Tories it’s in tonight’s Guardian "Cameron does not deny using Greensill’s private jet to fl...