Debate Not Hate

Debate not hate logo

Melton Borough councillors unanimously agreed to join councils across the country in supporting the Local Government Association’s Debate Not Hate campaign.

The motion was proposed by Cllr Pip Allnatt, Leader of Melton Borough Council and seconded by Cllr Maise Graham, Leader of the Conservative group at a meeting of Council on Thursday 27 July.

The move comes amid figures produced by the Local Government Association (LGA) in 2022 which found that seven out of 10 councillors had experienced abuse from the public in the previous year. Further research by the LGA in 2022 reinforced concerns that abuse in public life and public discourse is becoming normalised and seriously impacting civic life and local democracy.

In supporting the Motion, Members of the Council set “…a clear and positive expectation regarding acceptable behaviour, both within the Council, but also from members of the Community, and wishes to make clear that abuse of Members or Officers, in any form, and directed to any person, is not acceptable.”

Cllr Allnatt said:

“Abuse and personal attacks on elected members is unacceptable and there is evidence that these experiences are forcing good councillors out of local politics and deterring others from running for election. Abuse and unfair criticism of officers fulfilling their duties on behalf of the council is equally unacceptable.”

Cllr Graham on seconding the proposal said:

“I have pleasure in supporting this motion because we all abhor bullying in whatever guise it comes in. This motion widens the scope of previous anti bullying motions bought to us as it includes members of the community. We have heard examples of abuse of our officers which is totally unacceptable, and this motion makes that clear.”

Cllr Margaret Glancy, Deputy Leader, supported the motion saying:

“I fully support the motion to raise public awareness of abuse and intimidation directed towards elected Members. The abuse can originate from many sources. Abuse of Members or officers in any form, by any one and directed at any person is not acceptable. There is no hiding place for those who inflict abuse and personal attacks, and I would encourage anyone to call this out if you are subjected to it. Let’s all debate and not hate.”

The LGA has been working for some time to build a better understanding of the issue of abuse and intimidation of elected members and what individuals, local organisations and national government can do to reverse this trend. Their Debate Not Hate campaign aims to raise public awareness of the role of councillors in their communities, encourage healthy debate and respectful challenge, and improve the responses and support for local politicians facing abuse and intimidation.

02 August 2023