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Statement re Collin Brewer

Statement from Cornwall’s Director of Children’s Services Trevor Doughty:

"As Director of Children’s Services for Cornwall Council 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.

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

Background to the complaint

The Council received a complaint from Disability Council over remarks alleged to have been made by Collin Brewer at County Hall in October 2011.

The complaint was determined in accordance with the Council’s procedure for assessing and determining allegations of breaches of the Members’ Code of Conduct.   This procedure was adopted following the changes made to the ethical standards framework for Councillors by the Localism Act 2011.  

The process was led by the Council’s Monitoring Officer who sought the views of an Independent Person and a panel of three members of the Council’s Standards Committee.  This panel, which was chaired by Councillor David Hughes, was convened solely to give its views to the Monitoring Officer on this issue.

Following the Government’s abolition of Standards for England in 2012 and changes to the Code of Conduct regime the options available to the Council when a breach of the Code of Conduct is found have been limited.   There is no longer the ability to suspend Councillors.   The Council has never been able to disqualify Councillors in response to Code of Conduct complaints.

In this case the Monitoring Officer found that there had been a breach of the Code of Conduct and determined that the only appropriate and proportionate sanction he could impose was to require Councillor Brewer to issue a formal apology.

The complaint was received at the end of October 2011 and referred for investigation by a Standards Sub-Committee the following week.  Following the investigation of the complaint it was further considered in May 2012 but a final decision deferred pending the introduction of the Government’s changes to the ethical standards regime which took effect on 1 July 2012.  As a result of the level of complaints that were being dealt with in the context of the changes to the procedures the decision was not issued until the beginning of November 2012 and all parties were kept informed of the delay.

The assessment and review of complaints involves the consideration of confidential information and is undertaken in private session and so the Council is unable to publish details of the consideration of the Code of Conduct complaints.  However a copy of the decision relating to this matter is available for public inspection.

A full copy of the procedure and the options open to the Council is available on the Standards Committee Information page.

Story posted 27 February 2013

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