Debate Not Hate – council supports bid to tackle abuse and intimidation against Councillors

Council Chamber


At Full Council on 25th April 2024, Councillors voted to pass a motion committing to challenge the normalisation of abuse against councillors and uphold exemplary standards of public and political debate at their meetings.

The vulnerability of elected representatives has been at the forefront of the political sphere in recent years with high profile incidents like the murders of Jo Cox MP and Sir David Amess MP.

The most recent Local Government Association Councillor Census revealed 7 in 10 councillors reported experiencing abuse and intimidation within the last 12 months and one in 10 experienced abuse frequently. 

At the meeting, Councillors agreed to work together on a cross-party basis to set an example of healthy debate and denounced abusive or threatening behaviour from anyone within the community on social media and in-person.

The council also pledged to support the LGA's Debate Not Hate campaign to remind everyone that while democracy thrives on good, frank discussions these should never turn into personal abuse.

In addition, the council resolved to:

  • Use the LGA template letter to write to the Member of Parliament for Runnymede and Weybridge to ask them to support the campaign.
  • Regularly review the support available to councillors in relation to abuse and intimidation and councillor safety.
  • Work with the local police to ensure there is a clear and joined-up mechanism for reporting threats and other concerns about the safety of councillors and their families.
  • Take a zero-tolerance approach to abuse of councillors and officers.

Cross-party statement:

Democracy is at the heart of local government and councillors are as much part of the community they represent. While debating and disagreeing with each other are an integral part of the process, councillors should not be subjected to abuse and intimidation because of their role. In passing this motion, Runnymede Borough Council is fully committed to standing up against abuse and working to promote positive, constructive public and political debate within our community. Further information on the motion and the campaign can be found on the council’s website

Cllr Tom Gracey Leader of the Council

Cllr Linda Gillham Leader of the Runnymede Independent Residents’ Group and Englefield Green Independents

Cllr Robert King Leader of the Labour, Cooperative and Green Group

Cllr Don Whyte Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group

Cllr Malcolm Cressey Leader of the Independent Group

Cllr Sam Jenkins Egham Town ward Councillor and Motion Proposer

Published: 29 April 2024