Sheffield councillor reveals he was threatened with shotgun
A Sheffield councillor was left terrified by a man who turned up on his doorstep with a shotgun.
Coun David Baker is the latest councillor to speak out about frightening encounters while doing their public duty.
Along with being faced with a shotgun, on a separate occasion he was barricaded in a house by two angry constituents who refused to let him leave.
His comments come amid changes to local election ballot papers. From now on, candidates’ home addresses will not be published for security reasons.
Liberal Democrat Leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed welcomed the move, saying there had been a national move to protect elected representatives following the murder of Jo Cox MP.
Coun Baker is the latest Sheffield councillor to talk about abuse and intimidation.
Last year Council Leader Julie Dore revealed she had a panic button installed at her home following threats. She was whisked away to a safe house for four days and had police stationed outside her house for a fortnight.
And Cabinet member Jayne Dunn feared she would be raped after an anonymous man abused her online then broke into her property.
Coun Baker, who represents Stannington, said: “A few years ago I used to live on Stockarth Lane in Oughtibridge.
“I was looking into complaints from local residents about a certain farmer and landowner who was building a road from his home to the join the highway.
“I was asking questions and trying to find out some information because people were worried about this ending up as housing development because it was a substantial road and they were using plant machinery and equipment to clear it.
“There was a knock at my door one day and when I opened it this man was stood there with a shotgun over his shoulder. It was much more common in those days for a farmer to carry a gun but I had to take a step backwards.
“He said forgive the gun, I’ve been out shooting rabbits, and then he went on to cross question me about the issue but the whole thing was dominated by the fact he had a shotgun with him.”
On another occasion, when Coun Baker was representing Birley, he was trapped in a house by two women.
“They had requested adaptations to their council house but the council couldn’t do it so I went round to tell them.
“They were very angry and sat in chairs across the doorway and said I couldn’t leave, It was frightening because I didn’t know what they were going to do. I was there at least an hour.”
Coun Baker says he now ensures he is safe at surgeries and meetings.
“Nowadays I never go into a room and sit with people behind me and I always sit near the door. I’m very conscious when I hold surgeries that somebody else is in the building as a back up.
“I have always been a community politician so I never worry about my phone number being available. I live and work in the community so people know where I live but there is a difference to having my address on a ballot paper which anyone can see.
“It is unnerving. Your address is printed whether or not you are successful as a candidate. Even if you don’t end up as a councillor, your address is still made public.”
Lib Dem Leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed said there had been a definite shift after Jo Cox MP was murdered.
“We have had occasions when individuals have turned up at councillors’ homes and on some occasions it has caused some distress so this change is welcome.
“The murder of Jo Cox changed everything, people in public life have had to step back a bit and think of their own safety and security. Councillors have children and families and they have not signed up to this.
“Emails and social media give people more access to councillors nowadays, everyone has a mobile phone and people can write to us at the Town Hall so there is no need to have someone’s home address. It’s a very positive step forward.”
By law, candidates have to live or work in the city and while they will still submit an address when standing for election, it will be kept private.