Bridgend Group leaders condemn abuse of councillors

The leaders of all political groups at Bridgend County Borough Council have come together to issue a joint statement condemning anyone who attempts to abuse or intimidate elected members representing the local community, and to remind people that such behaviour will be reported to South Wales Police.

The warning follows claims that some councillors have been experiencing verbal abuse, vandalism, malicious poster campaigns, social media trolling and more in the run-up to local government elections which are set to take place on Thursday 5 May.

Chief Executive Mark Shephard said:

“Regardless of what their differing political views may be, councillors from all parties and backgrounds are united in that they are here to do what they believe is best for the communities they represent.

“Their role requires us to work hours that are often long and unsocial, to hold public surgeries, travel around the county borough, communicate with people both in person and online, visit constituents at home, receive callers at our own addresses, and more.

“Elected members will always try their level best to help people and do what is right for the local community, and the vast majority of local constituents understand and appreciate this.

“Unfortunately, a small minority of people appear to believe that they are entitled to abuse and intimidate councillors, that this kind of irresponsible behaviour is somehow tolerated, and that it will never be reported to South Wales Police, but they are wrong on all counts.

“Nobody enters local politics expecting to be praised on all sides. While debate in encouraged and the very nature of the role means that councillors should expect fair criticism, the level and nature of the abuse that some members have been experiencing is completely unacceptable.

“Those responsible should understand that such actions have consequences, and that all political parties and elected representatives at Bridgend County Borough Council stand united in condemning and rejecting such behaviour.

“With a wave of prospective candidates standing for election on Thursday 5 May and ready to represent local people, this understanding is more important than ever.

“The election is going to be the first to feature a new 28-ward structure with 51 members following a review undertaken by the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales. Fifteen of the new wards will be represented by more than one councillor, seven will feature two councillors, and eight will feature three councillors.

“The forthcoming election will also account for 83 seats covering nine local town and community councils across 18 community wards, and full details are available at”

Monitoring Officer Kelly Watson added:

“With a report on councillor safety set to be considered at a future meeting of the Democratic Services Committee, a wide range of support is already available to help members deal with potential abuse and intimidation.

“The Local Government Association offers specific guidance on themes such as handling intimidation, personal safety and handling online abuse, and councillors are aware of the ways in which they can raise concerns, make a complaint or report an incident.

“They have access to a wide range of resources produced by the likes of the Local Government Association, Home Office, Community Safety Partnership and the Prevent Programme, and the council has also organised a series of personal safety training events and is seeking to repeat the sessions later in the year.

“Democratic Services staff remain available to advise any elected members who experience abuse and intimidation.”