Cornwall Council has issued a unified call for the issue of harassment and abuse of councillors and officers to be tackled as a priority.
The issue was debated following a motion submitted by Cllr Thalia Marrington, who told her fellow councillors that, unless the culture of toxicity is addressed, it will damage democracy and put people off becoming involved in politics.
The motion read: “Council commits therefore to taking a strong, clear and visible approach to dealing with this issue and calls for officers to consult with members and produce a report setting out clear steps to improve and strengthen protections against harassment, abuse and intimidation.”
It received widespread support from across the chamber, with many councillors, including Cllr Barbara Ellenbroek, also highlighting the need for all councillors to treat each other with respect at all times.
The leader of the council, Cllr Linda Taylor, told members she will meet with the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable to discuss a specific point of contact commitment for the council.
The motion was approved unanimously.
A second motion, calling for the council to review its climate emergency declaration, was referred to Cabinet for discussion.
Other issues dealt with at the meeting at Truro’s County Hall included a Licensing Policy Review and the appointment of co-opted members to the Standards Committee and the appointment of independent persons.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Taylor said: “The harassment and abuse of councillors and officers has been a growing problem, and it was a vital debate for us to have.
“To hear a number of members say they would not recommend going into politics is sobering.
“We all enter public life for the right reasons, to try and improve the lives of residents. However, within a few weeks of starting in the role, you realise the abuse that comes with it, and it is not acceptable.”
You can watch a recording of today’s meeting via the council’s Webcast service.
Posted on 16 January, 2024