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Published: Thursday, 09th January 2020

Councillors from Oldham Council’s three main political parties have come together to stand up to the growing levels of abuse public servants are experiencing.

Elected representatives from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have said they said they should be allowed to carry out their duties without fear of harassment and abuse.

Councillor Arooj Shah, Deputy Leader of the Labour-led council, tabled a motion - Tackling Harassment and Abuse in Public Life - at January’s Full Council meeting.

The motion comes after councillors and public servants were subjected to a series of personal attacks, mainly over social media.

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Shah, said: “There are few greater honours than being elected by your community to represent them. Our democracy is special, and it has been hard fought for by brave women and men who believe that every person is equal, our voices, our votes and our opinions.

“Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and others do little to combat hate, division and intimidation in public life. They allow users to harass, defame and attack where the boundary of what is acceptable is shifted increasingly to a point where normal people are fearful of speaking up.

“We must be true to ourselves and not allow those who trade on division to reduce us to fear. We are nothing if we are not true to ourselves. Rooted in community. Passionate for change. Believing we have something to offer.”

Lib Dem councillor Louie Hamblett, who seconded the motion, said: “This motion is about personal abuse that is unacceptable anywhere in society, which for the more vulnerable in particular can have a long lasting and damaging effect both mentally and physically.

“As an individual, I would never wish anyone to be silenced when they are excising their right to free speech, but that person should not be allowed to make unsubstantiated allegations about individuals without basis.”

Councillor John Hudson, Leader of the Conservative Group on Oldham Council, said: “As councillors it’s our job to represent the people, including those who didn’t vote for us. Just because you don’t agree with our politics or what we say we shouldn’t be subjected to personal abuse.

“It’s basically bullying, and there is no place for that in Oldham.”

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