LGA calls for respect in local elections

The Local Government Association (LGA) has joined forces with the Electoral Commission and the Jo Cox Foundation to call for no abuse towards candidates at this set of local elections.

The organisations have urged voters to treat candidates in the upcoming local elections with dignity and respect and to not engage in behaviour that may constitute harassment or intimidation.

The call comes amid concern about the growing levels of abuse and intimidation aimed towards local councillors which can become heightened during election campaigns.

Marianne Overton, chair of the LGA’s Civility in Public Life Steering Group, said: “It’s really important that everyone participating in these local elections are treated with respect, focussing on the debate itself and free of abuse and intimidation.  

She said it was "profoundly disturbing" to hear reports of harassment towards candidates. 

"It cannot become the norm that councillors need to install CCTV and panic alarms in their houses to feel safe whilst fulfilling their democratic duty.

“Anyone, regardless of their background or political affiliation, should feel safe to become a councillor. We must do all we can to stamp out abuse from public life and encourage healthy debate if we are to safeguard the future of our local democracy.”  

Recent LGA research found that three quarters (75 per cent) of councillors in England and Wales experienced some form of intimidation or abuse during the 2023 local election campaign.

A survey by the Electoral Commission also revealed that nearly a quarter of candidates at the last set of local elections experienced someone intentionally making them feel unsafe. Twelve per cent of those who experienced harassment reported this to the police.  

Levels of abuse and intimidation aimed at councillors have been increasing, with 82 per cent of councillors feeling personally at risk in 2023, up nine per cent from the year before. 

Although the majority of abuse is at a low level, a growing number of councillors have experienced more severe abuse, including stalking and threats of violence, some of which has resulted in criminal prosecutions. 

Elections will take place on 2 May in 107 councils as well as combined authority elections in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley and the West Midlands.

There will also be elections for the London Mayoralty, the Greater London Authority Assembly and Police and Crime Commissioners. 

Event Diary

Solutions for Councils and Landlords