Will no-one rid me of this troublesome councillor?
What is not in dispute though is the fact that others interpreted this as a royal command to murder the Archbishop who was famously martyred in Canterbury Cathedral.
Becket like many before and after him was causing problems for people in authority and the King wanted rid of him. Quite probably he would have settled for him vanishing off to another land but he certainly wanted to stop his meddling.
Here in Stradbroke over the past year or so the "powers that be" have uttered similar words about me. Don't get me wrong as far as I know nobody has suggested the authorities kill me but they would certainly like to have me shut up and kicked off the Parish Council.
Almost four years ago now I became a parish councillor but it was events that started well over a year ago now at the tail end of 2013 that has ended up in the situation we are in today. What happened then was that I challenged - in public - the behaviour of the Parish Council. I began to blog about my experience as a councillor and the fact I felt the Council wasn't acting in the best interests of the village.
What has shocked me since then is the reaction or should I say massive over reaction from several councillors. Challenge has been interpreted as disloyalty and discussion and debate as "bad behaviour". Recording meetings and even writing about what has happened has been called "intimidation" and a campaign to get me thrown off the Council has been sustained over a year.
Except in 2015 in the UK there is only one way to get rid of a troublesome councillor. At an election. And conveniently we have one in May this year.
This hasn't stopped a small group of people trying every way possible to "persuade" me to leave the council. Here are a few examples:
- People began to ignore me at meetings. Literally not speaking to me and trying not to make eye contact. On one occasion two councillors spoke across me as if I was literally not there.
- Deliberate attempts were made to undermine local projects I was associated with. The first was to attempt to take over the Stradbroke Village Website that I had run for several years with family members and then to set a new site up when this attempt failed.
- People spread rumours about me they knew to be false, for example that I had made money from running a website when they knew full well it had in fact cost me money.
- A constant barrage of literally scores of emails berating me and at times quite literally asking people to laugh at me were sent out to council members and to others.
- Complaints were made to my employer and unpleasant emails sent to other organisations I was associated with
- Members of my family were then targeted. My wife (and by proxy the other editors of the local magazine) were subject to an attempt by councillors to take over the magazine and sack them.
- My teenage son was attacked and accusations made that he sent messages on Twitter that the accusers knew full well he did not. In the end the Council was forced to apologise for this.
- An orchestrated campaign of complaints that I had broken a code of conduct were made. As part of this the people in the campaign met together and agreed a list of things to complain about. The complaints were deliberately sent one after the other over several months.
- Anybody who showed any sign of support for me was immediately targeted and it was made clear to them by letters and other behaviour that they would be subject to the same treatment if they dared to continue.
This has all be unpleasant to say the least and I completely appreciate that some people have not agreed with what I have said or the way I have said it sometimes.
My view though is that it is through an election that Stradbroke should decide if it wants to be ridded of its "troublesome" councillor or if a bit of challenge and accountability isn't exactly what the Parish Council needs.