Cotswold District Council members face ‘unacceptable’ abuse
Councillors in the Cotswolds have spoken out about the “totally unacceptable” abuse they face.
Cotswold District Council unanimously agreed to denounce such behaviour, which members said was spreading from social media into real life.
A recent Local Government Association (LGA) poll found that seven out of ten councillors across England and Wales experienced abuse over the last year.
“I myself have had threats of physical abuse online,” said leader Joe Harris.
Mr Harris said he received an anonymous e-mail in April which he reported to the police and which “had an appalling impact on my mental health”.
“It still upsets me just thinking about it. This is the abuse many of us face on a day-to-day basis and we shouldn’t put up with it,” he added.
He explained that councillors across the UK have had their cars hit with firebombs and dog excrement posted through their letter box, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).
The council agreed to endorse the LGA’s Debate not Hate campaign and backed the motion brought forward by councillor Gina Blomefield.
She told the council that abuse is an issue which can affect anyone who gets involved with public life.
“We all know of the appalling murders of Jo Cox and Sir David Ames who were killed when carrying out their surgeries,” she said.
“It seems probable that some people have become emboldened and encouraged from their rants on Twitter, Facebook, or influence others to carry them forward as a way to behave in face-to-face encounters.
“This is totally unacceptable.”