Motion on personal safety of Councillors agreed

Badenoch and Strathspey councillor Pippa Hadley.

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Members of Highland Council have voted through a safety motion following a powerful speech by councillor Pippa Hadley.

Ms Hadley told members she was subjected to a vicious verbal attack by a constituent on October 8 last year.

‘It was verbal and not physical, but I was left in no doubt as to the intention of the assault, which referred to me being a cow and I would be shot against the wall,’ she said.

‘Also the reason for it, due to the reference to both my position and my politics. He shouted ‘commy, lefty, Green, local councillor’ and said my name, Pippa Hadley.

‘Even though I managed to flee from him I don’t mind admitting I was terrified at the time and really upset and shaken afterwards.’

Ms Hadley said she lived in fear that the individual would follow through on his threat. Police later arrested and charged the man, but on a separate charge.

One week later, MP Sir David Amess was murdered at a constituency surgery.

Ms Hadley’s motion asked Highland Council to undertake a personal safety audit for members taking power in the next term.

This will be accompanied by a council-wide education programme and a communications system that links in with Police Scotland’s existing alert system for high profile and vulnerable individuals.

Ms Hadley said that International Women’s Day highlighted that a number of women do not stand for election because they are afraid of attack.

However, she said this was not a matter just for women. Increasing diversity depends on improving the personal safety of all elected members.

‘We shouldn’t need to become victims to be protected,’ added Ms Hadley.

Convener Bill Lobban seconded Ms Hadley’s motion. Mr Lobban said he felt that councillors are at greater risk of attack than MPs and MSPs, as they see more people on a day-to-day basis.

He also highlighted the dangers for female councillors leaving community meetings alone, late at night, in the dark.

The motion passed unanimously.