WOULD-be councillors in Devon are being put off from standing for election by a wave of intimidation, abuse and toxic comments, it’s been claimed.

Now Devon County Council is being urged to sign up to a ‘Debate Not Hate’ campaign spearheaded by the Local Government Association.

Members meeting at County Hall next Thursday will discuss the issue which Cllr Rob Hannaford (Lab, Exwick and St Thomas) says undermine local democracy.

In a notice of motion for the council he says: 'The intimidation and abuse of councillors, in person or otherwise, undermines democracy, preventing elected members from representing the communities they serve, deterring individuals from standing for election, and undermining public life in democratic processes.'

He believes the problem is getting worse, and support for councillors needs  improving so they can carry on representing local residents.

Cllr Hannaford wants the council to endorse the campaign which aims to raise  awareness of the role of councillors in local communities, to encourage debate and to improve the response and support for people in public life who face abuse and intimidation.

At the meeting councillors are expected to back a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to abuse of both staff and councillors, as well as working with police and writing to Devon’s MPs asking for their support.