A LABOUR councillor has apologised after describing elderly residents in his wealthy seaside town as a “burden” on the community.
Jim Goodfellow made the controversial comment at a public meeting to debate plans for new retirement flats in North Berwick, East Lothian.
In a failed bid to oppose the plan, the 67-year-old – a retired principal teacher – said: “There is a burden with elderly people.
“Elderly people put additional stress on the care system when they move into a community.
“Our surgery is at breaking point and it is virtually impossible to find extra care assistants in North Berwick – we can’t bring more elderly people into the town.”
The remarks were condemned by charity Age Scotland as “misleading” while opposition councillors branded his “extreme view” as “shocking”.
SNP Councillor Stuart Currie, said: “Older people make a huge contribution, and enrich our communities.
“To hear them being described as a ‘burden’ is simply disgraceful.”
Age Scotland said: “Older people are an asset, not a burden – demographic change creates a challenge but these shifts also offer a potential solution in that older people, in many cases, provide far more care and support than they received.”
The day after the meeting Cllr Goodfellow backed down, saying in a statement: “On reflection I accept that the language used in heat of the moment was inappropriate.
“I apologise unreservedly to all my constituents, and particularly older ones, for any offence caused.
“What was said in no way reflects my long-held view on the older population of East Lothian, who make an incredibly valuable contribution to our local communities, including the North Berwick Coastal ward.”
The plans for the elderly apartments were approved.