Laura Sharman 03 July 2019

Councils urged to protect councillors from abuse

Councils are being urged to take steps to protect councillors from abuse and intimidation in a new guide published today.

The guide, published by the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), aims to tackle the rise in threats and intimidation of elected members.

It provides councils and councillors with advice on the legislation associated with intimidation, how best to respond to abuse, personal safety and council policies and procedures.

Speaking at the LGA annual conference, leader of the WLGA Cllr Debbie Wilcox, said: 'The abuse and intimidation of public servants is unacceptable, whether online or in the streets, and should not be tolerated.

'Councillors are very committed individuals who invest a huge amount of time, energy and emotion into serving their communities and the public.'

Also speaking at the session, Seyi Akiwowo, founder of Glitch, outlined some of the abuse, racism and death threats she had received after becoming East London's youngest, female councillor.

She warned that local government will only be able to increase the number of women, people of colour and young people to stand as councillors if they are not subject the backlash when elected.

Cllr Wilcox added: 'What behaviours, culture and standards do we set and tolerate within our chambers and within our political groups? The only way things will change is if we rebuild trust in government and politics from the grassroots up, with councils and councillors providing the foundations.'

A previous survey by the WLGA found 26% of councillors has experiences abuse or harassment from their local community, while 20% had received the same from within their own council.

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