Neath Port Talbot Council Establishes Group to Address Harassment and Abuse from Public
Members of Neath Port Talbot Council have agreed to set up a group to deal with any harassment, abuse, or intimidation they may face from members of the public.
Council bosses met on November 27, for their monthly democratic services meeting where they discussed the formation of a new task and finish group, following what they described as increased levels of harassment and abuse.
The report described the potential for the group, which will be brought together in the new year, to look at councillor safety, as well as considering what steps should be taken to minimise the risk to councillors who had faced such threats.
The report read: “A pressing concern facing those in public office is the increasing levels of intimidation, harassment and abuse they are experiencing. While debate and expressing different views is all part of a healthy representative democracy, these unacceptable behaviours undermine the key democratic principles of free speech, debate and engagement, and sometimes pose a risk to councillors’ safety.”
Officers in attendance said they were now looking to find out what issues members were currently facing within their communities, and would set up a series of meetings where they could put together a document with relevant ways to address them.
Cllr Sonia Reynolds of Gwaun-cae-Gurwen and Lower Brynaman said: “I think its a good idea to take a look at this. I don’t have any doubt that things have got a lot worse since the pandemic in terms of people’s actions and attitudes.”
Cllr Saifur Rahaman of Port Talbot also welcomed the move, saying: “I think being in local politics or whatever level of politics, sometimes people out there forget that behind politics we are human beings, we have lives, we have feelings and we want to do the right thing.
“I totally understand sometimes doing the right thing may not be pleasing to all, but it is a difficult position to be in and I really welcome this task and finish group being established.”
The formation of the task group was supported unanimously by the committee, and will also run alongside a seperate group to update the council’s Diversity in Democracy Action Plan, a programme designed to ensure that council chambers across the country are representative of their communities.
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