‘Debate, don’t hate’ call for local elections

The LGA is urging people to engage in positive, constructive debates ahead of the upcoming local elections and to find out more about the role of local councillors.

Local elections are a great opportunity for residents to have a say on who their local leaders are and shape the future of their communities, with around 5,000 council seats across England and Wales up for election on 5 May.

However, there are growing concerns about levels of public intimidation and toxicity of debate in local politics, both online and in person.

This behaviour not only risks the personal safety and wellbeing of councillors, but also undermines the fabric of local democracy, the LGA has warned.

Councils strive for increased participation, as broadening the diversity of people standing as candidates, and of those engaging with the elected, helps councils make better informed decisions for their communities.

LGA Chairman Cllr James Jamieson and the LGA’s group leaders said: “Councillors play a unique role in representing the needs of residents, often working together cross-party to tackle important local issues and to improve the quality of life of local people.

“Differences of opinion, and the defence of those opinions through councillors’ arguments and public debate, are an essential part of the cut and thrust of political life.

“But we hear too many harrowing stories from councillors and officers about the harassment and intimidation they face. This is unacceptable and damages our democracy by forcing people from public service.

“As we approach the May local elections, we urge residents to engage in positive, constructive conversations and debates, to help make local democracy a welcoming environment for all.”


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