Town councillors resign following 'vitriol, hatred and abuse'

Downham Market town centre, looking onto the Town Square and clock. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Downham Market town centre, looking onto the Town Square and clock. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Two town councillors have made the "reluctant" decision to resign after being subjected to "hatred and abuse."

Cissy Lightfoot and Colin Bulley sent in their letters of resignation to Downham Market Town Council (DMTC) in December and claim it was because of "malicious attacks" and social media abuse.

In her letter, Ms Lightfoot,  who sat on the market strategy group and chaired the town hall strategy group, said she had "no choice" following recent events and posts which have "jeopardised the security" of herself and her family.

Downham Market Town council have said the market will reopen on Friday, June 5. Picture: Sarah Hussa

Downham Market Town Council on Paradise Road. - Credit: Archant

She said she could no longer place herself in the firing line of the "vitriol, hatred and abuse."

She added: "The only way for this to stop is for me to remove myself from any public role."

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She said her resignation comes after police advice over safety.

Both councillors expressed "disgust" in the way the town clerk Elaine Oliver had also been treated, saying she has received "unwarranted abuse."

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In a joint statement, Mr Bulley and Ms Lightfoot said: "We both joined the council as we were passionate about our town.

"We both feel strongly that the people of Downham Market need to be aware of the terrible events that are happening within their town council."

Ms Lightfoot said she personally wanted to "expand and improve" the town's market and increase the usage of the Town Hall.

She added: "I also assisted in delivering a successful music festival to Downham.

"Things were going well, until the Covid-19 pandemic.

"For six months, I spent 12 hours a day making free face coverings on behalf of the council, for the residents and businesses in the town, and was even interviewed on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2."

Their resignations were reported at a DMTC full council meeting on Tuesday, January 12 and complaints have been submitted to the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk's monitoring officer.

Mayor Becky Hayes said their resignations are a result of "relentless harassment and bullying."

A West Norfolk Council spokesman said: “I can confirm that the complaints are being looked into by our monitoring officer.”

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