Southport Councillor banned by park campaigners after online intimidation claim

25th September 2017

Southport Councillor banned by park campaigners after online intimidation claim

A Southport councillor already involved in a bullying complaint has been strongly criticised for continuing the alleged behaviour online.

The original complaint came after two young mums campaigning for the Ovington Drive/Kew Woods park say they were left feeling bullied and intimidated by councillors after attending the Southport Area Committee.

The Kew estate residents say they were rounded on and shouted at, first by their Liberal Democrat ward councillor Fred Weavers and then by his party colleague Cllr. Richard Hands, Chair of the meeting, before being berated by others including Cllr. Tony Dawson.

Above: Southport Libdem councillors who allegedly shouted at residents. 

The campaigners, Diane Thomas and Nat Glennon, had attended the meeting to ask if and when the Kew Ward councillors would release the ward funds they’d requested to help save the park. They subsequently complained to Sefton Council about the treatment they received in response to their question which was on the meeting’s agenda.

Since then campaigners say they have been subjected to multiple postings from Councillor Dawson on their Facebook page for the campaign, Kew Woods Playground, which they felt were deliberately politicising the issue but also became unnerving.

“We have repeatedly stressed that this is our campaign and asked people commenting to try not to politicise things on the page, which on the whole they do. Unfortunately, Councillor Dawson not only chose to ignore this but did so in what we feel is a truly appalling fashion,” said Nat Glennon.

Councillor Dawson has now been banned from the campaigner’s page after apparently searching through the personal profile of Diane Thomas. He then, without permission, re-posted a photo from it onto the group’s page to make a disparaging political point, despite the fact it included her six-year-old son in it.

Nat continued:

“It was a personal attack that also attempted to undermine our campaign and he used a six-year-old boy as part of it. I’m not sure you could go much lower. As far as we are concerned this is just an online version of what we experienced from the councillors. These are grown men acting in this fashion. Perhaps we should get a playground for them, not the kids?!”

After the decision Councillor Dawson denied the claims elsewhere online saying, “Posting what was someon’e main Facebook photo back on Facebook is no form of intimidation.”

Nat Glennon disagreed:

“Diane felt bullied after that meeting, then one of the councillors there takes the time to trawl through her personal profile to drag up an old photo in an attempt to question her motives and also the campaign and involve her little boy. It was certainly felt to be intimidating. Especially given the increasing number of his other posts since that meeting. It was strange behaviour we think.”

Diane Thomas said that she had no wish to discuss Councillor Dawson due to the matter now being with Sefton Council but confirmed her agreement with her fellow campaigner’s assessment of the situation.

The group’s page contained a full explanation of their reason for the ban:

Councillor Dawson you are attempting to politicise this page and that is something we will not allow.

This page is about our campaign for the park. That, sadly, has now included our appalling treatment at the Area Committee the other night. Since you are included in the complaint made we neither accept your version of events (we know what we saw, felt and were subjected to) nor think it prudent for continued discourse on the matter here. It is now a matter for Sefton Council to decide upon.

More importantly, you have obviously trawled through the personal Facebook profile of one of the very campaigners who came away from that meeting feeling bullied and intimidated and then, without permission, re-posted a picture of her with her son, who is a minor, and posted it on these pages in an attempt to further politicise the issue.
Do you think that is acceptable?! We certainly do not, to us, it is basically just an online version of what she suffered the other night!
The photograph in question is from several months ago before the election and shows that Diane intended to vote Labour, this is not a crime, nor any indication that it affects this campaign.
The fact that our group reached out to both Liberal Democrat and Labour local parties clearly show that. We have simply found that our subsequent treatment has, so far, differed greatly between them. We have also had discussions with those who are independent.
You have posted this straight after a clear request not to politicise the page to another commentator, who respected that wish. You instead have chosen to ignore this request and comment “No politics indeed!”

Your posting that photograph shows nothing about this campaign but everything about your online efforts we believe to try and muck rake and indulge in personal attacks.
Given these circumstances, and your previous notoriety for such behaviour, we believe that you have once again crossed a line and as such you will be banned from commenting on this page.

We will now be updating Sefton Council on this matter. If you continue to attack our campaigners elsewhere online in this fashion then we will take the matter further again. ”

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