'Bullying' Doncaster councillor reported after “I hope you are under a tree when the chainsaws come” Facebook post

A Doncaster councillor has been reported for ‘bullying’ after a Facebook post which read: “I hope you are under a tree when the chainsaws come,” in a row about a new cafe in the area.

Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 2:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th February 2020, 2:48 pm

Coun Dave Shaw, who represents the Town ward for Labour on Doncaster Council, posted the comment on Facebook while outlining his objections to a new cafe in Sandall Park on environmental and anti-social behaviour grounds.

But Friends of Sandall Park, the volunteer group which looks after the park, has now reported Coun Shaw to Doncaster Council’s monitoring officer, Mayor Ros Jones and the Labour Party for his remark, which they say was posted in response to a comment by Wendy Barclay, one of the group’s helpers – and accused him of bullying after also calling her ‘gullible and naive.”

Coun Shaw says he has now apologised for the comment and in a statement said: “I posted a comment in reply to a friend, who recently stood under trees on Middlefield Road in Bessacarr to prevent them being chopped down.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Coun Dave Shaw was reported over claims of 'bullying.'

“Unfortunately that comment, appeared at the end of the thread, rather than under his reply. This was either because I made a mistake, or due to the filtering of comments on the Doncaster Free Press Facebook page.

“Once I realised how the comment appeared, I posted an explanation, removed the comment, and sent an apology.”

The row erupted after plans to demolish the existing cafe – which is collapsing – were given the go-ahead and which will see a brand new cafe venue built within the park.

However, Coun Shaw is against the plan and said: “I object in principle to any of our parks’ green space being turned over to a commercial operation, or lost to development. We have no shortage of bars, restaurants or fast food outlets, however most wards in the borough have a documented shortage of green, open, and free to access, healthy space.

Sandall Park Cafe is to be demolished.

“Given we have a public health crisis, in terms of over consumption of alcohol, obesity and mental health, it seems contrary to our core principles, to trade an asset that has a positive impact on health outcomes, for a facility that will have a negative impact.”

“I fail to see how removing trees and green space from our borough will in anyway demonstrate that we are doing anymore than paying lip service to the issue.”

Coun Shaw also said he was aware of the complaint made against him and added: “Given that the comment was not in reply to the member of Friends of Sandall Park, I don’t think any intent should or can be implied.

“I understand that my views on the development are in complete opposition to FOSP. Its clear that they are prepared to exploit the situation, to close down any view that does not accord with their aspirations. Which I find disappointing, but not wholly unexpected.”

Coun Shaw is opposed to the new cafe on environmental and commerical grounds.

Sandra Crabtree, chairman of the Friends of Sandall Park has blasted back at Coun Shaw, accusing him of bullying and being ‘disrespectul’ and ‘unprofessional.’

She said: “As an ex member of the planning committee, Coun Shaw has an unconventional way of following planning procedures. He also has an even more unconventional and bizarre bullying style in dealing with anyone who does not agree with own views.

“He is disrespectful towards FoSP who he claims are only interested in the opening of the toilets. He completely ignores the 15 years of strategic planning that has turned around the fortunes of the park, briefing against them with what, in most cases is false and misleading information.

“He also called a volunteer ‘gullible and naïve’; and hopes she’s under a tree when the chainsaws arrive, which he then denies making. His use of social media is totally unprofessional.

“Through his bullying tactics Coun Shaw has done our volunteers, the people of Doncaster, local politics and his fellow elected members a disservice. He should be ashamed. He is a discredit to Doncaster Council in my opinion, but he continues to be allowed to continue his bullying.”