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Colin Brewer Report: Councillor "In Breach of Code of Conduct"

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7:16am 11th July 2013
(Updated 7:16am 11th July 2013)

A Wadebridge councillor who said disabled children should be put down has officially resigned.

A report on Collin Brewer's quotes likening them to deformed lambs said he would probably have been suspended if officials had the power.

County Hall says a letter arrived on Wednesday 10th July and has immediate effect.

It comes after a report said he would have been suspended or his case referred to a tribunal, if the Cornwall Council had the power.

It said his remarks seriously breached the code of conduct, calling them "outrageous and grossly insensitive."

Change In The Law

Cornwall Council will now ask the government to hand back its powers to discipline officials.

Officials met on Tuesday in the wake of the damning report into Mr Brewer's comments.

Cabinet member Alex Folkes said: "The public expect that we can do more than simply slap him on the wrist. Whether it's a suspension, whether it's the ability to refer to somebody else who might disbar him from office, whether it's the power of recall.

"They legislated to take away these powers from local councils. We're asking them to return them, and we think we've got a very good case that demonstrates the reasons why they're needed. We rely on the government changing their mind, something that they're not famous for doing."

Formal Apology

County Hall's Monitoring Officer has imposed the highest level of sanctions currently available to the Council, after receiving the report.

These include formally censuring Councillor Brewer for the remarks he made in an interview where he appeared to liken disabled children to deformed lambs and directing him to make a formal apology.

The Monitoring Officer has also recommended that Councillor Brewer should not be allocated a seat on any Council Committees that deal or might deal with issues relating to disabled children or other vulnerable members of the community and that he should be banned from access to Council premises or parts of premises where services to disabled children are provided, managed or commissioned.

He has also recommended that Councillor Brewer is not nominated as the Council's representative on any outside body that is involved with providing services or support to disabled children or other vulnerable members of the community.

Councillor Brewer will also be expected to attend further training on the Code of Conduct and in dealing with the media.

Cornwall Council released this statement:

"Cornwall Council takes its responsibilities around disability and other equality issues extremely seriously.   Following the publication of the original article on the Disability News Network website in May the Leaders of all the political groups on the Council issued a statement condemning Councillor Brewer's remarks as completely unacceptable and contrary to the Council's policy of supporting all people with disabilities.

"We recognise the strength of feeling on this sensitive issue and share the frustrations of members of the public over the limited sanctions at our disposal.  The Monitoring Officer has made it clear that if the powers had still been available to the Council he would have either recommended that Councillor Brewer be suspended or referred the matter to the First Tier Tribunal who would have had wider powers of sanction available to them.

"This view is supported by members of the Council's Standards Committee who are recommending that the Council writes to the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Committee for Standards in Public Life expressing the Council's concern over the removal of the authority's power to impose meaningful sanctions in response to breaches of the Members' Code of Conduct.  This recommendation will be discussed at tomorrow's meeting of the full Council.

"In the meantime the Council will be working to implement the directions made by the Monitoring Officer."

7:16am 11th July 2013

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