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Councillor: 'Too Many Disabled Children'

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7:01am 4th March 2013

A fresh row is brewing after the man in charge of looking after children in Cornwall said there are "too many" who are disabled.

Neil Burden is councillor for Stoke Climsland and also deputy leader.

He has said sorry after making the remark to a group of parents in 2010 but insists it has been misunderstood.

Mr Burden says he was trying to make the point that there are too many medical errors, and they can sometimes leave children disabled.

He admits the comments were "clumsy" and says he has learnt a "hard lesson."

It has come out just days after Wadebridge councillor Collin Brewer was forced to quit for saying disabled children should be "put down."

At the time of the latest remarks the then chair of the Parent Carer Council for Cornwall, Sandra Ward, called for him to resign or be sacked: "No child should ever be referred to as 'it' and as for there being too many of our disabled children I do not know how to respond to that, as a parent or as the chair of the PCC, as I have never heard such an awful statement in the 12 years of my daughter being born."

But the then leader Alec Robertson accepted Mr Burden's explanation and apology.

In a statement he said: "The comments I made to Sandra concerned medical errors that are sometimes the cause of disability in children. There was no malice in the comments but they were clumsy and didn’t make the point I intended.

"I wrote to her immediately after the incident to apologise unreservedly for my inappropriate words and I am very grateful that she recently acknowledged the work and support I have put in on behalf of disabled children in the last three years.

"I recognise that I expressed the point I was trying to make very badly and caused offence. I learnt an important lesson on that day and hope that my record of support for services to children with disabilities has shown that."

7:01am 4th March 2013

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