DUDLEY Council is investigating incidents where female councillors have been subjected to sinister and unwanted approaches.

Members of the authority from both Labour and the Conservatives have recently received seemingly harmless compliments about their work.

When they responded  saying ‘thank you’ they got further creepy messages asking them out on a date or saying how nice they are.

Council leader, Cllr Patrick Harley, confirmed officials have been made aware of the incidents and added: “It’s a little bit unsettling to go from being told you are doing a good job to ‘can we go out for a drink or a date’.

“It’s been reported to the chief executive and monitoring officer who have reported it to the police.

“If you are a female councillor it can be quite unnerving not knowing who the person is, if it’s a fake ID or a fake email account.

“The one comforting factor in this is that it’s not just one that’s been targeted, it’s probably half-a-dozen, so they are not being singled out individually.”

Councillors are regularly subjected to a variety of abuse and intimidation ranging from name calling and allegations of bribery through to threats of violence and racial slurs.

Shockingly it seems long-standing councillors become accustomed to abuse but for inexperienced members of the council the effects can be dramatic.

Cllr Harley said: “I’ve seen some very bright, young councillors only seek one term, the abuse people can get – I’m sure that plays a role.”

When abusers are identified Cllr Harley says a visit from the police will bring bad behaviour to halt without the need for court action.

He said; “I have had threats of violence over the phone, people leaving messages. I brush it off, it’s only if it’s a direct threat where they say ‘I am coming down to see you’ that I will involve the local constabulary.

“I can imagine for some of our female colleagues it can be very worrying indeed.”

The horrific murders of MPs Jo Cox in 2016 and Sir David Amess in 2021 demonstrate how vulnerable politicians can be in their communities and research shows abuse is on the rise.

Last year the Local Government Association (LGA) published  data showing 81 percent of councillors said they had experienced abuse and/or intimidation in the previous 12 months and 54 percent said they had seen abuse aimed at them increasing since they were elected.

Cllr Marianne Overton and Cllr Shabir Pandor, co-chairs of the LGA’s Civility in Public Life Programme Steering Group, said: “Abuse and intimidation aimed at local councillors is completely unacceptable and it is deeply concerning that this survey suggests that this is a problem that is growing. 

“If left unaddressed, it risks forcing good councillors out of local politics altogether.” 

Cllr Harley said: “It’s not all doom and gloom, the role is very rewarding – to get a thank you from someone you have been able to help, or to make a difference, is great.

“We can’t always win every case but when you do get it right and help somebody is a great feeling.”