Dorset

BCP councillors report stalking, hate mail and threats

L-R: Councillor Karen Rampton and Councillor Lesley Dedman Image copyright BCP Council
Image caption Karen Rampton (left) was stalked and Lesley Dedman said abuse was shouted at meetings

Hate mail, stalking and a dog attack are just some examples of abuse reported by councillors.

At least 13 Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) councillors said they had been targeted by members of the public since taking up office.

One councillor said she had received death threats and another said she had installed an alarm system at her home.

The council urged anyone who suffered abuse or threatening behaviour to report it to the authorities.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) asked BCP's 76 councillors if they had experienced abuse in their role.

Of the 15 who responded, 13 said they had and six said they had involved the police.

Abusive shouting

Bournemouth West councillor Karen Rampton said she was stalked for years and installed security alarms at her home following threats from activists.

"I had a stalker when I was elected in 2008, he had written to a few councillors but it gradually got more serious," she said. "He would come to my place of work and stare through the window."

Former councillor Phil Stanley-Watts said someone set a dog on him during the most recent election.

Council leader Vikki Slade last week told the LDRS she had received death threats.

In 2011, Conservative councillors in Poole had their homes cordoned off by activists and were left packages filled with blood-soaked cotton buds and tissue, the Bournemouth Echo reported.

Mudeford councillor Lesley Dedman said: "Recently there has been abusive shouting at councillors at residents' association meetings."

But Moordown councillor Beverley Dunlop said elected officials should expect a degree of reaction.

"Putting oneself in the public gaze comes with the risk of abuse. Seriously, if you can't stand the heat, leave the kitchen," she said.

Head of democratic services Richard Jones said councillors received support and were encouraged to report any abuse.

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