NEWPORT'S council leader Debbie Wilcox has condemned the "unacceptable" abuse and intimidation of councillors and public servants.

Speaking in her role as leader of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), Cllr Wilcox told a conference in Bournemouth, that such behaviour, irrespective of who and where it comes from, 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,” she said.

“The abuse and intimidation of public servants is unacceptable, whether online or in the streets, and should not be tolerated."

In response to members' concerns, the WGLA has collaborated with its English counterpart the Local Government Association (LGA), to produce an online guide showing how councils and councillors can protect themselves and respond to incidents.


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In Bournemouth, Cllr Wilcox told her audience that political rhetoric which was once deemed extremist is now “increasingly entering the mainstream”.

“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," she said.

"It’s not just the social media companies who could regulate themselves better, or media outlets who could exercise better editorial control."

Cllr Wilcox said it is up to councils to set standards for behaviour and tolerance within chambers and 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,” she added.

The Councillors' Guide to Handling Intimidation is available on the LGA website, here.

­— What does the guide say?

"While debate and having different views is all part of a healthy democracy; abuse, public intimidation and threats are designed to undermine democratic decision making by generating fear in those who represent it," states the guide's introduction.

"There is existing legislation designed to protect not only councillors but the general public as a whole, and this guide provides some advice on it."

It goes on: "This guide is not designed to alarm, but to suggest some steps you and your council can undertake to protect yourself as a person in a public position, and how to respond should an incident occur."