Pendle: Standards hearing over councillor’s ‘abusive social media posts’ in town jubilee celebrations row

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Pendle Council is to hold a standards hearing over allegedly offensive and disrespectful comments apparently posted by a town councillor on social media in a row with local people about how the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was marked in Nelson this summer.

Yvonne Tennant, a councillor at Nelson Town Council, is accused of describing one local Facebook community group as ‘a***holes’ and suggesting another group wanted a ‘flag-sh***ing orgy’ in the town centre, according to a report by Pendle Council, which is holding the standards hearing on Tuesday, November 8.

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Yvonne Tennant’s alleged comments arose amid criticisms from some people that local jubilee celebrations in June this year by Nelson Town Council were not enough. Some critics claimed no event was held in the town centre and no bunting or flags were hung.

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Nelson Town Hall. Photo: Kelvin StuttardNelson Town Hall. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Nelson Town Hall. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

However, Yvonne Tennant wrote that bunting had been put up around Nelson’s Shuttle sculpture and along Leeds Road and Manchester Road. An event at the Unity Hall, a historic venue which is now run by the town council, had been well-attended, she added.

But her allegedly rude and abusive social media comments came later, as the row developed, according to a Pendle Council standards hearing report.

Complaints about Yvonne Tennant’s alleged behaviour have come from various people including a member of the public, Facebook social media groups and a borough councillor, according to a report by Pendle Council’s former monitoring officer, Philip Mousdale, written just before his recent retirement.


However, Coun Tennant has defended her actions and rejected breaking the code of conduct, the council report adds. She has argued that she was provoked by a few individuals, some of whom were ‘vile’ and ‘racist’, and her descriptions were not targeted at the general public.

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She said social media attacks on her continued, there were ‘wild allegations’ about ‘councillors pocketing tax-payers money’ and comments against her became increasingly racist and misogynistic.

She said the ‘flag-shagging orgy’ comment was her reaction to those obsessed with the Union Flag issue. It was not aimed at any single person and was a well-known term for people who wrap themselves in the flag, who claimed to be patriotic but were racists, the Pendle Council report adds. She also said her personal Facebook page was set to friends-only and suspects the screenshots were hacked.

Overall, Coun Tennant has denied being insulting, aggressive or unprofessional. She also claims one of complaints is from Pendle borough councillor Neil McGowan, who is a political opponent.


The Pendle Council standard hearing report features a number of complaints and screenshots appearing to show various social media posts and conversations.

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One member of the public, known only as KB, states: “Yvonne Tennant has been insulting, aggressive and intimidating to the general public. She has referred to anyone who disagrees with her personal or political views in an extremely derogatory manner.

“In one post, she used a tirade of foul and abusive language such as to bring the town, the borough council, Nelson Town Council and the position of the councillor into disrepute.

“I feel she should be suspended and subsequently removed from the council. I will not repeat in a letter the disgusting and insulting filth this person has published, This from someone who is supposed to reflect the town. This can only be a breach of the councillor code of conduct. The worse I have ever seen.”

Elsewhere a statement from borough councillor Neil McGowan states: “I feel it is my duty to report Yvonne Tennant for her outrageous actions on social media. The words used in her posts are totally repugnant and cast a dark shadow not just over Nelson Town Council but the borough council as well. I hope this complaint is investigated properly and thoroughly. ”

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Another complaint from ‘MM’, a representative of the Nelson Lancashire Now & Then Facebook page, states: “One of the lesser of the names she has called us was ‘moaning Minnies’. The rest I simply cannot bring myself to write.”

Later it adds: “As extra evidence of her vile and crude comments including unacceptable language about us came to light elsewhere on the web, I felt duty-bound to report the matter. I can assure you there is much anger amongst my group members and elsewhere due to the total disrespect shown by Yvonne in her position representing the council.”


In the borough standards report, monitoring officer Philip Mousdale states the hearings investigation is not about the rights or wrongs of holding jubilee events or not, or opinions regarding the jubilee and celebrations. The issues are the alleged abusive comments and alleged breach of the code of conduct.

His conclusion states: “In my view, Councillor Tennant was acting in her capacity as a town councillor in making these comments. Social media is fundamentally about sharing content and making conversations. It is also very transparent and can be seen by many people.

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“An inappropriate post can amount to a breach of the code. In my view, the phrase ‘moaning Minnies’ is mild and does not breach the code. However, I do consider the phrases ‘stupid people’, ‘a***holes’ and ‘flag-sh***ing’ are offensive and disrespectful, and amount to a breach.

“Their use falls short of the high standards of behaviour expected of councillors, even if in response to provocative comments and language from others. My finding is that there is sufficient evidence of a failure to comply with the code of conduct.”

Pendle Council will hold the Standards Hearing Committee meeting on Tuesday, November 8, at Nelson Town Hall, starting at 6pm. It was rescheduled from a previous summer date.