Woolwich Town Hall
Abuse of councillors was a real problem, Thorpe said

Greenwich councillors faced threats earlier this week from someone saying they would shoot them, leader Danny Thorpe has revealed.

Last night’s full council meeting saw a minute’s silence for Sir David Amess, the Conservative MP who was killed in his Southend West constituency earlier this month, as well as James Brokenshire, the late MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup.

A man has been charged with Amess’s murder and is due to face trial in March.

Paying tribute to Amess as “one of the very best public servants”, Thorpe said: “We all have to be honest about the challenges we all face.

“Only this week we were subjected to a range of situations where people were threatening to shoot us in Greenwich.

“The level of abuse online and hostility and the level of intimidation of people who are elected to serve is truly shocking. None of us are going to be driven out by these people but we do have to take precautions and be sensible.

“I hope that in the coming weeks and months we can work with all council colleagues to make sure that everyone is as protected as possible.”

Conservative leader Nigel Fletcher said that Amess’s murder, which came five years after Labour MP Jo Cox was assassinated, “has implications for all of us”.

“We should never really allow attacks like this to stop us doing what we do as public servants – we all have surgeries, we meet people. It’s what we do.

“In the case of David Amess, those who knew him best said that he would certainly not want people to withdraw from communication and contact with their constituents.”

Tributes were also paid to Brokenshire, a non-smoker who died three years after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Angela Cornforth, the Labour chief whip, recalled meeting him at cross-borough events and paid tribute to his “great tradition of service to the community”.

Cornforth, a Plumstead councillor, said that Brokenshire had told her that he had learnt about public service from his father, Peter, a former chief executive of Greenwich Council.

“We have another reason to say how proud we are, and to send our condolences to his family and to say how proud we are of the tradition we followed.”

Fletcher recalled how Brokenshire – a former Northern Ireland secretary – was happy to cross the border to help his Conservative colleagues in Greenwich.

“He was always keen to help us. We couldn’t keep him away – sometimes the first we knew was when we arrived at our office and found Special Branch parked outside,” he said.

“He is a great example of how a decent person can make their way in politics. You don’t have to play the game of backstabbing and attacking people in intemperate terms, he was just a nice guy.”

A fundraiser in Brokenshire’s honour for the Roy Castle cancer charity has raised over £55,000 so far.

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