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Plea for respect towards council workers this Christmas

Cheshire East Council leaders are urging people to show courtesy and respect towards council staff after incidents of ‘unacceptable hostility and abuse’ from the public.

Leader Councillor Sam Corcoran and deputy leader Councillor Craig Browne said rising aggression and threats towards council workers are ‘utterly unacceptable and shameful’.

Since April, for example, 37 council highways staff have reported being abused by members of the public while performing their day-to-day roles. This compares with 38 similar incidents in the whole of the previous 12 months – a worrying increase.

Managers believe the actual level of abuse is much higher than is reported by staff. Refuse collection workers and parking enforcement staff have also been targets of abuse and aggression.

Abuse comes in many forms, from swearing, threats or dangerous behaviours such as ignoring signs, removing barriers, driving through roadworks or around bin lorries at speed – and even physical harm. It is never acceptable. Where staff have suffered physical abuse, they often also experienced mental trauma in the aftermath.

Cllr Corcoran said: “The kinds of disgraceful behaviour shown towards both our male and female workers are completely unacceptable and shameful.

“Public-facing staff, such as council highways and enforcement teams, carry out vital work for all our communities, day in and day out – whatever the weather and amid the additional pressures of the Covid pandemic – to keep people safe and traffic flowing. They should not have to face abuse and threats of violence.

“Our staff should be treated with the same common courtesy and respect as anyone else. It is disgraceful and shameful to treat anybody that way.”

Cllr Browne, who is also chair of the council’s highways and transport committee, added: “This abuse impacts on real people who are part of our communities – they could be our neighbours, friends or even a member of our own families.

“During a very stressful and challenging Covid pandemic, our staff have continued to put others’ wellbeing before their own and continued to work to serve our communities.

“The past 20 months have been very challenging for us all – but we should not allow our frustrations to boil over into bullying or abuse towards those who are simply doing their jobs and serving their communities.

“If there are things the council is doing that you wish to comment on or see improved, I would urge people to take part in one of the many consultations that are currently being undertaken.”

The council is holding a wide range of public consultations on matters including council budget setting, housing, active travel and a speed management strategy.

To share your views, visit the council website's ‘Have Your Say/Consultations’ section.

If you witness any council staff or member of the public being subjected to threatening behaviour, you should report it to Cheshire Police on 101. If you have dashcam or mobile phone video, you can share a copy of it with the police to help any prosecution.


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