Neil Burden has apologised for his comments he made in 2010 (Cornwall Council)
Cornwall Council has been accused of creating a culture which perceives disabled children as a "burden" on its budget after recent comments from councillors.
Following the resignation of cllr Collin Brewer after he said disabled children should be "put down", a second council member has released a statement apologising after he said there were "too many disabled children" and referred to one child as "it".
In the wake of the controversy surrounding cllr Brewer, Neil Burden, the lead member for Children's Services, released a statement via the council in which he apologised for the comments made in 2010 to Sandra Ward, at that time the chair of the Parent Carer Council (PCC) for Cornwall.
The council also said members of the PCC were "reduced to tears" after Burden made remarks which related to the expense of keeping handicapped children alive.
Burden 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."
Ward is now demanding the resignation of Burden. She said "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."
Following the news of the comments made Burden and Brewer, charity Disability Cornwall, who originally publicised the comments by Brewer, said they have been inundated with responses from the public and fear these negative attitudes towards disabled children could be "endemic" in the council.
A spokesman for Disability Cornwall said: "The feedback we have received has unfortunately only confirmed our fears that pervasive and negative attitudes towards disabled adults, children and their families do not exist in isolation and are part of a culture that perceives disabled children and adults as a burden on Council budgets.
"Disability Cornwall supports the views of the PCC and recognise it has become increasingly clear that a culture of fear is preventing individuals from speaking up as they believe this could impact on them personally when it comes to accessing services.
"Representative organisations are also fearful of speaking up as so many are currently re-negotiating contracts for council funding and there are Council officers and members who are fearful for their own positions if they raise their heads above the parapet."
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