Police called in as over social media abuse of councillor

Sean Gibbons
Sean Gibbons

Police have been called in over abusive social media comments made about a Doncaster councillor who is embroiled in a row over Christmas lights.

Coun Sean Gibbons, of the Mexborough First Party, complained to police over remarks made about him on Facebook, which initially caused him to threaten to resign his seat. He later changed his mind.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Police have questioned a 31-year-old Mexborough man in connection with distressing and defamatory comments on a social media page against a 42-year-old man.

“The 31-year-old has been served with a first course of conduct warning in relation to the matter.”

Coun Gibbons said: “At one point I said I would resign because of the abuse I was getting.

“But I changed my mind because of the messages of support I received and people calling on me to stay.”

The abuse comes after Coun Gibbons was involved in a row over Christmas lights in Mexborough, which had resulted in two dates being planned for different switch-ons.

Mexborough First, the political party of the town’s three Doncaster Councillors, was arranging an event for November 28.

But Mexborough Positive Activity Group, which has organised events in previous years, said that it was arranging its own event independently.

Coun Gibbons said it is currently now proposed that a two-day switch on event is staged on Friday, November 27, and Saturday, November 28.

Mexborough First Coun Sean Gibbons said he and fellow councillors Bev Chapman and Andy Pickering had been excluded from PAG meetings.

He said: “If needs be, we will switch the lights off and then put them back on.”

Sue Phillips, chairman of Mexborough PAG, which has previously organised the event, said the group had not been approached by Mexborough First and denied claims the political group had been excluded.

She said: “We will hold an event as we’ve always done – it’s what we do.

“If somebody else wants to organise an event then I’m sure the people of Mexborough will welcome two events.

“I think it is a shame if we end up having two separate events but we’re not the one that’s created the problem.”

Doncaster Council said the lights were paid for by the local authority out of the flexible budget, which no longer exists.

There is thought to be only one set of lights in existence, and they are understood by the council to be in the hands of the Positive Activity Group, which has organised the switch-ons for the last 14 years.

Last year the council paid for PAT tests on the lights, put them up and paid the electricity bill and plan to foot the costs again this year.