A Falmouth councillor found to have breached the Code of Conduct with her “rude and offensive” behaviour told the Packet she feels like there has been “disability discrimination” in place – something strongly refuted by the town council.

Cllr Zoe Young, town councillor for the Falmouth Arwenack ward, was found to have breached a number of articles of the Code of Conduct after complaints were made by the mayor, fellow councillors, their relatives, Tall Ships event volunteers, security personnel and the Falmouth BID manager.

She was accused of attacking her fellow councillors online and undermining the mayor’s authority.

In addition, she was accused of being “breathtakingly rude and offensive” during this year’s Tall Ship’s event and attempting to undermine the "credibility, ability and morale" of the organising team. A full list of the allegations can be seen here: 'Breathtakingly rude' town councillor censured after 'campaign of harassment'

Subsequently, Simon Mansell, who carried out an assessment of the complaints for Cornwall Council, found that Cllr Young’s actions had fallen below what was expected under the town council’s Code of Conduct.

He said that Cllr Young should apologise for her conduct to Cllr Edwards, Cllr Robinson, Clementine Neild and the event organisers of the Tall Ships event, and recommended that the town council should put in place a system by which Cllr Young can speak and/or meet with the clerk or a nominated representative at fixed times only.

Cllr Young has now responded, telling the Packet: “What’s this really about? Our community faces intertwining housing, biodiversity, climate, public health and disinformation crises. As a neurodiverse artist, scientist, traveller and rebel for life, I was elected to tell the truth and represent voices unheard. So, I did.

“Falmouth Town Council voted to underwrite the Tall Ships event in 2023 with public funds. As the event opened, thousands of locals and tourists – families, elders, disabled – were left queuing for hours in the sun without water, shade, fences, loos or info.

“People collapsed, many more left in disgust. A naval ship was moored blocking the safer planned event layout, it turned out. To prevent a major incident, ticket sales were stopped on the gate – leading to financial loss.

“My ancestors were naval heroes; I’ve crewed in a Tall Ships Race. I know all too well that ‘shipshape and Bristol fashion’ is a matter of life and death.

“So when invited to speak to the event debrief by a council officer, I reported the issues I’d witnessed, only to be rudely thrown out.

“Were there unwritten rules that with my fibromyalgia and ADHD, I’d missed?

“I’ve asked the council for ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ under the Equalities Act for – for example – a single accessible timetable for all council-linked meetings, with clarity on which cannot be attended by a councillor on ward casework, [as well as] neurodiversity-informed officer training and councillor mentorship.

“But these requests are described as a ‘burden’. Councillor training, IT support etc are misrepresented as ‘Reasonable Adjustments’ when quite clearly they are not. The ‘reasonableness’ of a disabled access request should be negotiated in light of costs, but this has not occurred.

“I’ve been isolated, shamed and ostracised instead. This feels like abuse. Disability discrimination has to stop!

“In troubled times like these our councils need diverse councillors; decisions informed by evidence; mistakes acknowledged and lessons learned.”

A spokesperson for Falmouth Town Council told the Packet: “The Tall Ships event was one that was successfully underwritten and delivered by the town council. It has been the subject of comprehensive internal and external review and assessment.

“Councillor Young’s behaviour and conduct at the event was part of an external investigation by Cornwall Council’s Standards Regime following several complaints made to them, and her behaviour was found to have breached the Code of Conduct expected of councillors. It is disappointing that Councillor Young has not chosen to apologise to those affected by her behaviour.

“To clarify, Councillor Young insisted on being admitted to the event team’s debrief, despite not being part of the event’s delivery management team, and was, out of courtesy, given an opportunity to address the meeting. Her subsequent poor behaviour then led to her being removed from that meeting.

“In regard to the independent investigation into her behaviour it found that ‘she does not appear to understand or even accept the burden she has imposed onto staff’. Her disabilities were not, and are not, a burden - it is wrong to try to conflate the two things.

“On the issue of reasonable adjustments, these have been made for Councillor Young. Both Cornwall Council in their investigation, and Disability Cornwall, recognise that the council has done all that it reasonably can in this regard.

“We’ve repeatedly taken every step available to us to support Councillor Young, but poor behaviour does need to be challenged in the proper manner. This has been done via the complaints to Cornwall Council.”