Councillor quits after suffering online abuse
‘I’m very sad as I don’t like to give up but the abuse really upset me’ - were the words of now former Sudbury town councillor Ellen Murphy after her resignation.
On Facebook Miss Murphy was recently criticised for questioning a grant to be given to a user group that is taking over the lease of the Delphi Centre in Sudbury.
Miss Murphy says she accepts she might not hold the same opinion of others, but has resigned in part after the abuse she said she faced.
“There were various reasons, I didn’t feel that the council itself supported me in anything I did.”
She she said she found it impossible to get issues put onto the town council agenda, but it was her questioning of the grant money to the Delphi user group that caused the main problems.
Miss Murphy said she believes two-thirds of the Delphi users come from outside of the town, yet it would be Sudbury residents footing the bill for any funds given.
Two months after expressing her concerns at a council meeting she was taken aback by what she described as “rude” comments left on the social media page.
“I was described as an incomer, I’ve been in the UK for 32 years. I was also called a moron. There were 57 really nasty comments. There were comments about me being Irish.
“I thought: ‘I do this for nothing’. People said I do it for money. I’d really had enough. I thought: ‘Do I have to put up with these people?’
You can have a pop at people but there’s no need to be nasty. I’ve always had the best interests for Sudbury in my heart.”
The 67-year-old said it was not the first time she had questioned monies being given to local causes, including grants to the Quay Theatre, and accepted others may not agree with her view, but the reaction suffered has now caused her to consider living in the town, five years after moving here from Loughton.
“I’ve been told to get out of the town so I am. I can’t live in an area where people are so bigoted. I’ve done so much to try and fight for Sudbury.
“I am sad as I expected this to be my retirement town and I’ve made some really lovely friends.
“The majority of people are really lovely. A few make you feel really bad about yourself.”
Miss Murphy said she was hoping to move to Birmingham next year to be closer to her family.
After previously being a councillor in Loughton for four years, she stood for election in Sudbury in 2015.
“I believe if you live in an area you’ve got to care for it,” she said, adding it was also a good way of meeting new people.
She was elected as a Conservative councillor but later resigned, she says she was told to resign or be sacked, however Jan Osborne, the leader of the group, disputes this. “We don’t have any problems, we work well as a group. Ellen seemed to want to go her own way, it came out of the blue.”
Miss Murphy has been heavily critical of a number of local authority plans including the county council’s previously planned cuts to Sudbury fire station, plans to move the bus station and of the Sudbury Steering Group.
On her resignation from the local Conservative group she said: “I was told it wasn’t my job to talk to people.
“I find that confusing. How do I know what they want unless I talk to them? I always speak as I find it and don’t keep secrets.”
In reply Mrs Osborne said: “There was nothing secretive about the group. However, we do have to be for areas of confidentiality or commercial sensitivity.”
Mrs Osborne added that the town needed positivity not negativity.
Town council clerk Jacqui Howells said Mrs Murphy had previously requested items were put on the agenda but explained these had already been discussed at previous meetings or on different committees, with a six-month rule on items not being discussed again if a decision had been made.
She added that being a councillor was a very rewarding role, being able to part of the decision making process and helping the community, but was also a difficult and time consuming one, with no financial benefit.