Burnley councillor resigns citing ongoing 'abuse and harassment' from resident
Coun. Christine White (74) told the Express she had been left with no option but to stand down because of 'ongoing abuse and intimidation' she has received from a resident in Burnley Wood.
Coun. White, who represents the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party in Burnley Wood and Rosehill ward, said the abuse started shortly after she was elected in 2017 and was now affecting her health.
She said: "Throughout my life I have always tried to help communities where I live. This was the first time I have ever been a councillor and I was honoured to be elected.
"However, for some reason, a certain individual has made my life hell and I feel I can no longer go on serving as a councillor. This person has subjected me to bullying, intimidation and defamation of character, to the point where it is affecting my health.
"I have documented evidence from independent people at meetings where this person has subjected me to abuse. I have even had to report this man to the police and consult my solicitors about his behaviour but it seems this has had little effect.
"I am very sorry about resigning as I have received a lot of support from my colleagues and from Burnley Council itself."
Coun. White, who was elected as a Liberal Democrat in 2016, has lived in Burnley since 1974. She has previously served as a welfare officer for the Royal British Legion,
She has been supported in her decision by her colleague in the Burnley and Padiham Independent Party, Coun. Neil Mottershead.
He said: "Any kind of bullying or abuse is totally unacceptable, especially a man bullying a woman. Christine White works extremely hard for the residents of Rosehill and Burnley Wood.
"She is also a fund-raiser for many charities, including being a poppy seller for many years. I find it appalling that somebody thinks they have the right to bully or abuse a lady who puts her heart and soul into working for the community.
"I feel that politics is behind this bullying and I would ask, if it was a man in Christine White’s position would the bullying be the same? Christine will be sadly missed and I am appalled to see it come to this."
Coun. White was not due for re-election until 2020 and so a by-election will now have to be called in the ward.
A Burnley Council spokesman said: "Councillors recognise that people have the right to disagree with them. Everyone is entitled to their point of view and to express their opinions and sometimes matters can become heated. However, it is totally unacceptable when disagreement and debate crosses the line into abuse and threats against a person.
No-one should feel frightened for their safety simply because opinions differ. It puts the whole foundation of democracy at risk.
"We offer all councillors support and advice on how best to serve their constituents, including dealing with difficult situations. In extreme cases where threats or abuse are involved we would advise anyone to contact the police."