Collin Brewer is found to be in breach of the Code of Conduct

Today, Cornwall Council released the long awaited report investigating one of its Councillors and comments made by this Councillor. The comments made by Councillor Brewer in an interview to Disability News back in May caused outrage, not just locally in Cornwall, but nationally too.

The council received 180 complaints and was duty bound to investigate those complaints. From those complaints received, the Standards Boards found Councillor Brewer guilty of breaches of the Code of Conduct. The report can be found HERE. In censoring Cllr Brewer, the committee ruled that:

  • Councillor Brewer is to make a formal apology “as to the gross offensiveness of his comments and for the significant distress they have caused”.
  • Training will be arranged for Mr Brewer on the Code of Conduct and in dealing with the media.
  • While Mr Brewer remains a member of Cornwall Council he should not be allocated a seat on any of the Council’s Committees that deal or might deal with issues relating to disabled children or other vulnerable members of the community.
  • Mr Brewer should not be nominated as the Council’s representative to any outside bodies that are involved in the provision of services or support to disabled children or other vulnerable members of the community, either as their principal purpose or as part of their routine business.
  • Councillor Brewer will not have access to those parts of council premises from where services to disabled children are directly provided, managed or commissioned.
  • Under the current powers, the Council does not have the powers to suspend, or remove a Councillor from office for serious offences.

    I have also been told that Councillor Brewer has verbally resigned from Office. However, this is not official and cannot be official until Councillor Brewer writes formally to the Monitoring Officer. Once that letter has been received, then Councillor Brewer will no longer hold Office, and a By-election will be held for the vacant seat.

    5 comments

    • Steve Haynes

      It’s a pity there isn’t a recall system that would have allowed the people of Wadebridge East a chance to correct a mistake generated by the limitations of our voting system.

    • What limitations of our voting system? 300+ people, the majority of those in Wadebridge who could be bothered to vote, unless they lived on Mars, voted for a man that they must have known made disgusting and wholly unacceptable comments that were worthy of Goebbels at his best (worst?). That is the true scandal of this situation, not the pronouncements of a man one can only feel pity for. There is no better system than democracy but at times it falls very far from perfect.

    • Steve Haynes

      I agree that only 42% of the electorate voted, but out of the 1342 who did vote only 25% voted for him. That means 75% voted for someone else. Because there were 6 candidates, Brewer was elects on a minority of votes. If there had been a Single Transferable Vote, or any system other than First Past The Post, there could have been a very different result. Even if Brewer had managed to get more than 50% of the vote in such a system and been given democratic legitimacy, a recall system could have given people in the area that voted for him a chance to respond to his subsequent comments. I’m sure many felt the same outrage of people in other areas of Cornwall. A simple petition needing signatures from around 40% of the potential electorate would have given campaigners and ordinary people something to focus on, a real mechanism to respond to the actions of their representative who would have been deemed to have brought their area and themselves into disrepute. If he had then been deluded enough to fight a by-election then the electorate would have a further chance to speak. If, in highly unbelievable circumstances, they again elected him then we would be able to castigate their particular choice, but we would have to respect their particular choice. The reality would be that his electorate would have multiple democratic chances to voice their outrage and confirm that that Brewer does not represent the views of the true majority of the people of Wadebridge East.

      Sadly, we have a crude voting system and a democratic deficit where people have no check on the bizarre results it can sometimes throw up. It means that campaigners from inside and outside Wadebridge East end up having to appeal to Cornwall Council, who have almost zero power in these circumstances and harass Brewer in the hope that he will fall on his sword.

      A better voting system and a democratic system that empowered local people would not prevent situations like the Brewer saga arising, but it would enable the people of Wadebridge East to make their views clear.

    • worried worker

      Steve, your recall idea sounds a lot like Ireland’s “vote till you get it right”. If “ordinary people” were too damn lazy to vote in the first place then that’s their look-out. Maybe this will serve as a wake-up call (which I doubt, after all, walking for 5 minutes to a voting both may interrupt that whole load of nothing they were doing)…
      Asking them to vote again simply turns it into a “is this man horrible, yes or no?” vote, rather than being about standing as a Councillor.

    • Rosemary Trustam

      It does raise the question about both selection criteria for standing as councillors and what training councillors have to ensure they fully understand both equality laws and their values base. We hope everyone would hold the right values but it can’t be assumed. It was perhapsa bit surprising that titseemed to take so long to rasie this as a conduct issue but he has made the right decision to go in the circumstances

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