Councillor considers resignation over disabled comment

Image caption,
Councillor Collin Brewer made the "depraved" comment to a charity worker

A councillor who said disabled children "should be put down" because they cost too much is considering his future.

Collin Brewer, an independent member of Cornwall Council, made the comments to a Disability Cornwall member at a stall at County Hall in Truro in 2011.

The charity complained and the authority's Standards Committee has reported its findings.

Mr Brewer, who has faced calls to step down, has apologised and said he would consider his position at home later.

Mr Brewer said he had hoped his comment that "disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down", would provoke a response and a debate into the issue of service costs provision, but said he "did not get the reaction he wanted".

"Sometimes people can catch you on the wrong day. It's not a good enough excuse and I will forever be apologising for what I said."

Comment 'depraved'

Councillor John Wood, leader of the Independent Group, said: "My personal thoughts are that yes he should stand down."

"As soon as I heard of the Standards Committee's findings I wrote to Mr Brewer and said as far as I was concerned he was no longer a member of our group.

"If I was in his position I would resign."

Theresa Court, who was on the Disability Cornwall stall, said she was "absolutely horrified" when she heard the "depraved comment".

Steve Paget, chair of Disability Cornwall, said Mr Brewer's apology did not feel "heartfelt" and believes it has been sparked by media attention.

"It is unforgivable for anybody who is an elected member, who is a member of Cornwall council to say such an abhorrent thing," said Mr Paget.

"It is of great concern to us that anyone with such beliefs, let alone to vocalise them, could be a representative and elected member of our local authority."

Sue Bennie, from Camborne, has a 15-year-old son with a disability. "I am trying very hard not to swear," she said.

"Words can never be taken back, others have resigned for less. I think he should go."

North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson said he was "shocked" at the comments.

"I'm stunned that he would have made a remark like that and there is no way it can be defended."

Model Katie Price, who has a disabled son, tweeted: "Many disabled contribute more to society than mr brewer - ask our paralympians."

'No offence meant'

Earlier, Mr Brewer told BBC News that he had received no calls to resign from his Wadebridge seat. He said he had been in a meeting in the morning about council cuts and had been "hot under the collar".

"I listened to one of the ladies on the Disability Cornwall stall and came out with the comment," he said.

"If only I had not said that. I didn't mean it. I did it to provoke a response and debate the issue of service costs provision.

"It backfired. I was treating her with a lack of respect and I shouldn't have done it."

He added: "I meant no offence. I would defend disabled children to the last."

The Standards Committee ordered Mr Brewer to make a formal written apology to the charity, which he has completed.

Trevor Doughty, Cornwall Council's director of children's services, said in a statement: "I am shocked and disappointed by the remarks made by Councillor Brewer.

"The comments were cruel and ignorant and are contrary to the council's policy of supporting all people with disabilities.

"We are very proud of the disability services provided in Cornwall and wish to totally dissociate ourselves with these completely unacceptable views."

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