A CONSERVATIVE Barrow councillor provoked outrage  when he joked that “negativity” from opposition colleagues left him contemplating suicide.

The comments came during an animated debate on the Cumbria County Council budget which saw a three-part Conservative amendment defeated.

Speaking during the meeting,  Sol Wielkopolski said: “Well I don’t know whether to slit my wrists or hang myself because there’s so much negativity.”

The offensive faux pas provoked groans, cries of “unbelievable” and demands for an immediate apology.

Responding to the chorus of anger, the member for Newbarns and Parkside quickly withdrew his remark.

He also told the packed council chamber he had several friends who had committed suicide and that he understood mental health was a “serious issues.”

Speaking after the meeting, Conservative leader James Airey stressed it had not been Cllr Wielkopolski’s intention to make light of mental health problems.

He said: “It was a heated debate – as these things always are. I know, having spoken to Sol, that he didn’t mean to upset anybody. He apologised.

“These views don’t reflect the views of the Conservative Group. We take mental health seriously.

“Things get said in the council chamber and it is very difficult to get them back and we can only apologise on his behalf.”

Cllr Wielkopolski clarified his comment intended only as a criticism of what he called the “constant negativity” about the Tory’s decade-long tenure in Government.

He also described the changes to the budget proposed by the Conservative Group as “positive”.

They had called for £2.3m to be pumped into “community empowering” projects over the coming year.

Their proposals had included £1.2m for transport solutions for local communities, £200,000 per Local Committee.

They also wanted to see the launch of a £600,000 county lengthsman scheme: £100,000 for each Local Committee to carry out third party work on highways.

Finally, they wanted to see £500,000 central pot to build up working with volunteer organisations to help vulnerable families across the county.

Cllr Wielkopolski said the changes would have allowed local committees to be “more effective” and have “something other than peanuts to work with”.

Those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts can call the Samaritans on 116 123.