Two Labour councillors are victims of poison pen letters

Scarborough Town Hall. Picture by Andrew Higgins   121831h  02/05/12
Scarborough Town Hall. Picture by Andrew Higgins 121831h 02/05/12

A poison pen writer has 
targeted a pair of Scarborough councillors with hate mail, The Scarborough News can exclusively reveal.

Labour councillors John Ritchie and Eric Broadbent both had the anonymous letters posted to their family homes.

Cllr Ritchie was also sent one of his campaign leaflets – with his eyes burned out with cigarettes.

The expletive-strewn letters have been shown to The Scarborough News. However, the vast majority of the content isn’t fit for publication.

“Simply put, it’s malicious,’ said Central ward representative Cllr Broadbent, who is the leader of the Labour group.

In the letter addressed to him, the writer makes an unsettling reference to his family. He said: “At the end of the day, as a councillor I can take criticism, I have broad shoulders and it’s fair game.

“But when they bring my family into it, that’s completely out of order. We all have different views and policies, which I accept – but this is too far.”

He said his family were “horrified” when they found out about the letters.

Cllr Ritchie represents Falsgrave. As a former fireman and soldier, he said that he is “not overly concerned” about the menacing text. However, he said: “When it gets to the point where they have burned out my eyes with cigarettes, that’s a little bit spooky.” He added: “These people hide behind anonymity, in letters, on twitter, everything - it’s cowardly.”

Cllr Broadbent said that he hoped that having the letter highlighted would deter the culprit in future.

When asked what he would say to the person behind the letters, Cllr Broadbent added: “I would call him out on this. I would say what on earth are you doing, and what right do you think you have to write a letter like this.”

In a statement, Scarborough Council has slammed the “abusive” letters, adding that it will take appropriate action to shield councillors from abuse.

A Scarborough Council spokesperson said: “It is absolutely deplorable that some people think it is acceptable to communicate with councillors in the threatening and abusive manner highlighted by The Scarborough News.

“While residents are entitled to and indeed encouraged to share their opinions about particular issues they care about with their elected representatives, there are boundaries to what normal society would consider is acceptable language and behaviour.

“The council will take all appropriate steps to protect officers and councillors from abusive conduct, where possible.”