Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

“Put disabled children down” remark councillor resigns

A Cornwall councillor who said that disabled children should be put down has apologised and resigned.

Collin Brewer made the remark to a Disability Cornwall staff member at an event in October 2011. At the Disability Cornwall stand, their staff informed Cllr Brewer about the Parent Partnership Service, which supports parent carers of children with special educational needs. 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 Cllr Brewer to seek appropriate justice.”

An investigation and complaints process was then set up and has only recently been completed. From this, the Cornwall Council’s Independent Standards Committee ordered Cllr Brewer to make a formal written apology to the charity.

Cllr Brewer’s apology 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.”

Chair of Disability Cornwall, Steve Paget MBE, 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 Councillors resignation.”

Cornwall Council’s director of children’s services, Trevor Doughty, distanced the council from Cllr Brewer’s remark: “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 disassociate ourselves with these completely unacceptable views.”

Speaking to the BBC, Cllr Brewer, who was an independent member of the council, said: “It’s very painful. I didn’t sleep last night. I probably won’t sleep tonight.
“I’m not eating. I think it will live with me. It’s continual regret. I’m hoping I will cope with it. We will see.”

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