I’m not resigning - Councillor who said disabled children should be put down

The letter sent by Councillor Collin Brewer
The letter sent by Councillor Collin Brewer
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A COUNCILLOR who said disabled children “should be put down” has apologised - but refused to resign, claiming he “did nothing wrong”.

Collin Brewer, an independent Cornwall councillor, made the remarks at an equalities event at County Hall.

The veteran councillor was talking to Theresa Court, advice services manager with Disability Cornwall, in October 2011, when his comments caused her to make a formal complaint against him. That complaint has only recently been resolved.

Mr Brewer has complied with standards board orders to apologise but says he has no intention of resigning.

He told the BBC: “Clearly it has gone to the standards board to provide any penalty whatsoever and the penalty they imposed was to write a letter of apology.

“I have no intention of resigning. I don’t think I have done anything wrong. I have apologised.

“I have been a councillor for nearly 26 years. I have always worked to the best of my ability.”

Disability Cornwall today led the calls for Mr Brewer’s resignation.

Mrs Court said: “I remember him (Mr Brewer) coming over and asking what the stall was about. I was explaining to him about the parent partnership service when he said disabled children should be put down.

“He said they cost the council too much money.

“I felt physically sick. I was there with parents of disabled children at the time and I just had to turn my back on him.

“He is supposed to be an elected member representing public views and acting on behalf of the public.

“How anyone can come out with that is just shocking.”

A spokesman for disabled charity Scope described Mr Brewer’s outburst as “outrageous”.

He said: “Comments such as this have absolutely no place in modern society and should be consigned to the history books.

“To hear such an ill-judged and insensitive statement from a councillor is deeply disturbing and demonstrates that they are clearly not fit for office.

“Sadly hostility such as this is not uncommon for many disabled people and it is thoughtless comments like this that make it even harder for them to overcome the multiple barriers they face and live their lives just like everyone else.”

There was no response from Mr Brewer’s home in Wadebridge, north Cornwall, this morning.

But explaining his comments, Mr Brewer told the BBC: “I said they should be put down. I was just hot under the collar, I suppose, coming from a council meeting where we had been talking about budget cuts and staff cuts.

“Sometimes people can just catch you on the wrong day.

“It’s not a good enough excuse, I will forever be apologising for it. I can’t apologise enough. It’s not something that’s in my nature, I always support disabled charities.

“I am very sorry.”

In his letter of apology to Mrs Court, the councillor wrote: “I refer to the recent decision of the monitoring officer that I had breached the code of conduct following remarks that I made to you on 18 October 2011.

“I am writing to offer my wholehearted apology for the offence these remarks have clearly caused.

“While I meant no offence by my remarks to you, I can see in retrospect that they were ill-judged and insensitive and should not have been made at all.

“I hope that you can accept my apology for my actions that I now sincerely regret.”

Mrs Court said the letter was folded several times to fit into a small envelope bearing a second-class stamp.

Following calls Mr Brewer should have been made to quit, the council today confirmed Government changes meant the “options available” to the authority on breaches of the code of conduct were “limited”.

A spokesman said: “There is no longer the ability to suspend councillors. The council has never been able to disqualify councillors in response to code of conduct complaints.”

The statement added: “In this case, the monitoring officer found that there had been a breach of the code of conduct and determined that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction he could impose was to require councillor Brewer to issue a formal apology.”