‘People come to my door and yell at me’ – Cardiff councilors open up on shocking abuse they received

Councilors in Cardiff have spoken out openly about the shocking abuse they face in their roles as elected representatives. In a discussion on whether councilors should publicize their home addresses, members of Cardiff Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee revealed some of the abuses they have made on purpose.

A member of Cardiff Council, Cler Jeanne Cowan, said her car “kicked in”, feces “rubbed into the house” and the delivery of dead flowers are some of the difficulties. “The issues have been really important,” Kler Cowan said.

“I think it was really cool to see that this time around people could choose to put ‘Cardiff City’ on the ballot so they didn’t identify where people live. If members are really concerned about security issues, then They might not want to go into specific details, but I really think we should be careful if we can.”

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The written register of interests of councilors requires members to declare any interest they may have in property, including their own house. Whether they own a house, rent a house or occupy premises under licence, this will usually mean adding the address to the register of interests open on the council’s website.

However, there is a growing concern among members regarding personal safety and disclosing their home addresses. Following discussions between the Welsh Government, the monitoring officers of the Council and the Office of the Ombudsman, the guidance on written interests is that members are still asked for an address.

However, it can now be a more generic address, with no need to include a household name or number. Cllr Cowan said: “I’d like to see a more general approach if we can, just noting the abuse I’ve been through. People come to my door and sometimes yell at me.

“It’s not a good situation.” Cler Stephen Knah, who recalled that a former colleague had once “fired bombed” his car, said that the information relating to the members’ addresses on the open register of interest should be “as little as possible”.

Jayne Cowan, pictured in 2016
(Image: Matthew Horwood)

“Few residents understand that there are legitimate security risk questions in the modern world, especially in a large city,” he said. “I feel like we’re just dancing to the head of a pin if we’re trying to decide whether a postcode is enough? Is a street enough? Is a ward enough?

“If there is a legitimate question of interest, the Council must announce the time when that interest is brought into play anyway.” Arthur Haller, an independent member of the committee, said: “I don’t think there is a need to identify any specific addresses.

“I think as long as the person says they have property in a particular area and the public is aware of it. For me, that’s enough. I don’t think it’s necessary to have a member’s full address.” should be disclosed unless a problem arises, perhaps a planning application that could affect their address.”

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Members of Cardiff Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee discuss whether the addresses should be included in the public register of interests
(Image: South Meczyki Echo)

Clerk Imran Latif said he had a slightly different take on the matter. He said: “The guidelines said there should be an address and I was in favor of that, but having heard many incidents and councilors, I understand why there should be a minimum.

“But still, I think we should ask the police to be more involved if multiple things are happening.” Cardiff Council Monitoring Officer Davina Fiore reassured the Committee that the Council takes the safety of members very seriously.

She said: “The council has a security manager who is ex-police and has a very good relationship and relationship with the police and we urge all members to report it to the police and us if there is an incident. We are a Keep logs of those people and our security manager goes out with councilors and visits their homes if necessary and gives them safety advice.”

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