Leader of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), Councillor Debbie Wilcox, has today warned of the rise in threats and intimidation of elected members.
Speaking at the Local Government Association (LGA) Conference in Bournemouth, Councillor Wilcox outlined how political rhetoric once deemed extremist is now “increasingly entering the mainstream”.
Councillor Wilcox (Newport) 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.”
“When we talk about bullying or intimidation, it’s not just anonymous online trolls or an angry resident who crosses the line once too often. It’s not just the social media companies who could regulate themselves better or media outlets who could exercise better editorial control.
“We need to look at ourselves as politicians. We need to look at our national politicians and national parties for the leadership and tone they set. But we also need to look at ourselves as councillors and as leaders too.
“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.”
In response to members’ concerns, a new joint WLGA and LGA online guide has been developed to suggest some steps councils and councillors can undertake to protect themselves as people in public positions, and how to respond should an incident occur. The guide is available on https://www.local.gov.uk/councillors-guide-handling-intimidation
Notes to Editors
1. Councillor Debbie Wilcox was speaking at the Local Government Association’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth on Wednesday 03 July.
2. The National Assembly’s Diversity in Local Government report, published in May 2018, can be found here: http://www.assembly.wales/laid%20documents/cr-ld12488/cr-ld12488-e.pdf