Selsey councillors receive 'abusive and malicious' messages

Selsey councillors have condemned the actions of a group of online trolls.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 5:47 pm
Updated Monday, 12th April 2021, 5:48 pm
Also on the agenda was a discussion about the recent spate of anti-social behaviour and vandalism. Photo: Selsey Town Council

Selsey Town Council said it has to now take a 'more rigorous approach' to its public meeting protocol after staff and councillors were the subject of 'abusive and malicious' communications via social media and emailing under aliases.

"This includes pre-registering on the day (before 1pm) and keeping the camera on during attendance," a spokesperson said.

"Our chairman is disappointed that the actions of a small minority of our community have had a disproportionate effect on how we conduct meetings for our community via Zoom."

Town councillor Donna Johnson, who is a candidate in next month's West Sussex County Council election, branded the behaviour as 'unacceptable'.

She added: "Somewhat unfortunately, as much as I love this town and our community, there is a small group of people who have been persistently 'trolling' councillors and the Town Hall staff, for a number of months.

"Town councillors give their time completely free, no expenses, nothing. In fact, some of us are financially disadvantaged.

"I, for one, will not allow a small, but vociferous group within our community, dictate the narrative by trying to cause conflict and division. This town deserves so much more."

The trolling issue was discussed during the council's annual town meeting last Wednesday (April 7).

Also on the agenda was a discussion about the recent spate of anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

Council chairmain Andrew Brown and chair of the assets and amenities committee, Ian Martin, then hosted its regular meeting with Sussex Police this morning (Monday, April 12).

"During the meeting we discussed amongst other issues the anti-social behaviour, graffiti and electric scooters which have blighted the town in recent weeks," the council said.

"The meeting was extremely positive, we discussed the community projects the town council and police are looking to work together on.

"In addition, the police gave an update on the 101 reports they have been receiving."

Chichester Police said it was a 'productive meeting', adding: "We would encourage the reporting of these incidents and behaviours as it helps us build on the information we already have and enables us to plan activity to target those responsible.

"For more information about anti-social behaviour, please click [here] - you'll find an option to report ASB (anti-social behaviour) online. Additionally you can contact us by calling 101 (non-urgent) or in an emergency, dial 999."

Selsey Town Council said it 'continues to implore people' to report all incidences to 101, so that the police can use this information 'for the benefit of Selsey and its community'.