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Cornwall Councillor Collin Brewer 'sorry' after 'put down disabled' jibe

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 27, 2013

Comments (10)

A long-serving Cornwall councillor has apologised but refused to resign despite admitting telling a charity that all disabled children "should be put down" because they cost too much.

Councillor Collin Brewer, pictured right, independent member for Wadebridge East, made the comments to Disability Cornwall at an information event at County Hall in Truro.

When told how the group helps parents of children with special educational needs, Mr Brewer responded by saying: "Disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down."

Disability Cornwall advice services manager Theresa Court said: "I was absolutely horrified anyone would make such a depraved comment, let alone a Cornwall councillor and at a public event. As far as I was concerned, I had a duty to make a formal complaint against Councillor Brewer to seek appropriate justice."

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An investigation was launched and the independent standards committee has now ruled that Councillor Brewer should write a letter of apology to the organisation.

His letter read: "I am writing to offer my whole hearted 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."

The charity, which is based in Hayle, had an information stand at an event in October 2011 to allow councillors to meet equalities organisations and understand some of the issues they face.

Chairman of Disability Cornwall Steve Paget added: "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.

"For such a serious issue and multiple breach of code of conduct, bringing the council into disrepute, we did expect no less than this councillor's resignation."

That call was backed last night by Liberal Democrat Councillor Jan Powell, whose daughter is disabled.

She said: "I'm shocked, I can't believe that a councillor could even contemplate saying something like that even to stimulate debate. For me it is a resignation issue."

Councillor Brewer, who has been a councillor for more than 25 years, said he believed the incident happened after a long council meeting regarding budgets.

He recalled the conversation happened at a time when some disabled children were being moved out of county for care which was "incurring additional expense".

While admitting using the language, he stressed it was not something he believed but did it to "stimulate" a debate.

"I said something which was offensive and I have apologised," he told the Western Morning News last night. "I never ought to have said it.

"I said it to stimulate conversation, if you will, but it was the wrong type of thing to say. It is not something I believe. I didn't get the reaction I wanted."

Speaking from his home in Sladesbridge, near Wadebridge, Mr Brewer also admitted it was "not the type of thing you want to hear from a councillor".

"We all make mistakes," Mr Brewer, a former vice-chairman of Cornwall County Council, said. "I would have apologised there and then but I didn't get the chance."

But he added: "It is not something I would consider resigning over. I believe I am doing a good job."

Should Councillor Collin Brewer resign? Vote in our poll now.

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  • Mike_Newham  |  February 28 2013, 8:39AM

    Ok so he's resigned. Good. But may I ask the questions, why has it taken so long for this to surface and why was he not sacked? In addition, I would like to know what effect this attitude has had on his fellow councillors, I would not be able to sit in the same room with him, once, let alone for the two years since this has happened. Personally l would not want to be called a 'colleague'. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I would like to know what effect this entrenched attitude has had on the day to day lives of the disabled of Cornwall. Not just for the past two years but for the past 25 years that this man has been a councillor. A contempt for the disabled by those in authority has to make their lives so much harder and more difficult than elsewhere. The system that operates throughout the UK is now no more than a lottery anyway. Basically if you can't compose letters or shout loud those you care about will get nothing. But it's still reassuring to know you've got a 50:50 chance.

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  • lulu289  |  February 27 2013, 8:33PM

    Just shocking, words fail me, how did this take so long to come out though?

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  • SupraSamus  |  February 27 2013, 7:47PM

    What about an apology for the racist comments he made at the same event?

  • yevmo  |  February 27 2013, 6:45PM

    this is one of the most disgusting things i have had the displeasure of hearing,, he should be put down to save the government paying his big fat cheque,,the only solace i take from this is knowing this heartless creature has never had the wonderful feeling of pure love that you only get from wonderful special children,,the low down disgusting pig should be forced to resign and loose any financial gain that hard working parents of disabled children contribute to enable him to spread his vile comments in public !!!!

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  • Mike_Newham  |  February 27 2013, 4:55PM

    As sent to Cornwall council: I would ask for this to be forwarded to the 'leader' of your council. Sir/Madam, Having read on the internet today of the comments made by one of your councillors I am absolutely appalled at the reports of his statement. How anybody can say "disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down" is just beyond me. If he got his wish, firstly my daughter, who is blind, would not have achieved a first class honours degree from Leeds University. And secondly my son, who is severely Autistic would not of managed to get 10 GCSEs but who is now being hounded by similar ignorant, elected, councillors, for financial reasons. Perhaps these councillors should of been put down at birth for lack of a brain. I would be very interested on what would of been the consequences if Mr. Brewer had made similar statements about Blacks, Jews, Asians, Single mothers, Homosexuals, Lesbians or Eastern Europeans? For one thing I should imagine there would have been a legal precedent. I would also question why you have not 'done anything about this' since 2011. Possibly you do not 'lead'? Surely, by continuing to employ this man, this makes you compliant. No doubt he possibly receives financial reward or at least expenses for his 'work' which implies that Cornish council tax payers have also accepted his statement. Do people not care? If he was wanting to provoke a response, as quoted, he's definitely got f***ing one from me. Disgusted of Lincolnshire. Michael Newham Terracotta Glenside North Pinchbeck Lincs

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  • matthewsomers  |  February 27 2013, 11:22AM

    I don't ever comment on news items but I'm so enraged by what this man has said. What should I tell my 13 year old daughter when she reads this article or sees it on the news? She is a wheelchair user with Cerebral Palsy. I really don't know how to explain the reasons behind an intelligent adult making such terrible comments. I do hope that none of the children at her school think it would be funny to repeat such appalling views.

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  • DaveJG  |  February 27 2013, 11:17AM

    Would yobs who were being abusive towards the police get away with it by saying "I said it to stimulate conversation"? I think not. His excuse doesn't wash and he needs to go. He should also be banned from public office for life, IMO.

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  • Taxpayer2013  |  February 27 2013, 10:29AM

    His insufferable arrogance and sense of puffed up entitlement is showing. He clearly believes himself to be untouchable and has forgotten that he is paid for by us and stays in position with our sufferance. The families in Cornwall with disabled children who thanks to our brutal society are losing their essential support are the same families who - thanks to a CCC vote last week - will be forced to pay this man's salary and allowances in the face of increasingly grinding poverty. That is obscene in itself. His appalling attempts to justify his bigotry and inhumanity demonstrate that he is not fit to hold office. Cornwall is once again humiliated in the national media thanks to the behaviour of people like him. It is becoming a regular occurrence that our Councillors shame us in the eyes of the country. Cornwall deserves better, the hard working Council Tax paying families deserve better. He must go - and lose his pension. He has forfeited his entitlement to any more handouts.

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  • Hedgeangel  |  February 27 2013, 9:42AM

    Not only should he resign, he should forfeit his pension rights, what a drain on public resources he is! That this matter is even being debated shows Cornwall up as being a hotbed of backwardness and bigotry, who in their right mind would accept an apology from him and allow him to continue in office?

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  • veritee  |  February 27 2013, 8:33AM

    An apolology IS not good enough, Colin Brewer needs to resign. Hugh Jackson, a North Tyneside, Conservative councillor had to resign in 2008 for saying simular. Is Cornwall in the ark when it comes to accountability and what we expect form those in public office. This man needs to resign too.

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