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The leader of the Labour group at Lichfield District Council says “ignorant people” have led to a decision by a Burntwood councillor to resign.

Councillors had been due to discuss an exemption from the six month rule to allow Cllr Bernard Brown to continue in his role.

A report by Lichfield District Council had said it was needed because was “not able to use IT equipment” to attend meetings during the coronavirus crisis.

Cllr Steve Norman

But before the issue could be debated, Cllr Steve Norman, said Cllr Brown had taken the decision to resign.

“Unfortunately for Bernard he saw what has been on the internet and on social media regarding him and the fact he does not use the internet.

“Trust me, he has tried and various people have tried to help him, but when you’re 82 and you’ve never typed before it’s quite daunting.

“He’s been a great ward member and there are a lot of ignorant people out there.

“There are some people that don’t seem to know what a councillor does. If it’s a matter of just turning up for a meeting that would be easy but it’s not – it’s getting phone calls on a Saturday and Sunday, people crying on the phone and having surgeries every month

“All those things I enjoy and I’m sure Bernard did as well.

“What he and his family can’t stand is the vilification he has got on social media recently. For that reason he cannot take it anymore and he has resigned from the council.”

Cllr Steve Norman

Labour colleague Cllr Darren Ennis said social media criticism of Cllr Brown was “an absolute disgrace”.

“We are told as councillors we’ve got to have thick skin and broad shoulders, but we shouldn’t have to – especially when we aren’t doing anything massively wrong.

“The comments we’ve heard are an absolute disgrace. Because he cannot use technology does not mean he is not an asset and voice to this community and this council.

“Bernard throughout the whole of this has been carrying on with his case work. He’s still answering the phone he’s still helping people when they want his help.

“I’m really saddened by the loss of an amazing councillor.”

Cllr Darren Ennis

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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12 Comments

  1. “it’s getting phone calls on a Saturday and Sunday, people crying on the phone and having surgeries every month

    “All those things I enjoy and I’m sure Bernard did as well.”
    Can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed having people crying on the phone, but it takes all sorts I suppose.
    An alternative view to poor councillor attendance from a couple of years back:
    https://lichfieldlive.co.uk/2018/05/09/councillors-could-ditch-rule-that-docks-a-month-of-their-allowance-if-they-miss-more-than-a-quarter-of-meetings/
    Those SRA payments, on top of the regular allowances, aren’t to be sniffed at. Easy to see why some like to keep it in the family.

  2. Are they all happy now. From comments he was a good councilor but in this day and age no one will care. A sad day in local government and the council has shown it’s colours

  3. Hold on. Cllr Brown “saw what has been on the internet and on social media regarding him”.

    How did he do that?

    If he can use social media and can read whatever is on the internet, then I don’t see how he isn’t able to use a computer.

    I’m sorry, it might sound harsh, but there’s no job in the world where you can stop learning. Change happens. I’m sure he’s a good chap but he’s had more than enough time to learn some new skills.

  4. It looks like Cllr Pullen’s aim of creating a council with greater transparency, openness and vastly improved and positive engagement with the people of Lichfield District is going to be a long and rocky road.

    Some important lessons for LDC and its elected members, not least do not attempt to shoot the messenger and never treated the voters of your district like ignorant fools.

    A few questions remain unanswered as far as I can see:
    * why did it take 4 months for this issue to come to light?
    * all those councillors like Steve Norman now pointing the finger at all and sundry have been silent on this issue regarding their colleague for 4 months?
    * if they have been so concerned about this issue why did only come to light in an official, public council report after dragging out unchecked for 4 months?
    * what alternative arrangements, if any, did LDC put in place to allow Cllr Brown to continue to take part in meetings (phoning into meetings beeing the obvious answer)?

    I’m sure there are more questions, but given LDC’s track record of providing quick, clear and comprehensive answers on any question, I’ll leave it there for now.

  5. Councillor brown was made aware of the comments when his neighbours knocked on his door and showed him, please get all the facts straight before commenting as this has caused a lot of upset to councillor brown and his family for no reason

  6. Jay, the only facts I have are those presented in the news item. Again, I’m sure he’s a lovely chap but you simply cannot miss months and months and months of meetings. Any other job in the world – ANY – and you’d be pulled into a meeting and disciplined.

    Could I decide not to learn a new product or service that my company rolled out?

    Again – I’m sure he’s a lovely guy, but times change. I don’t think any of us are angry at him, it’s just the way that this problem has been allowed to go unchecked for so, so long before being exposed in the media. It should’ve been sorted in a quick 30 minute visit by the IT guys, then none of this would’ve happened.

  7. Sorry burntwood bloke but non of that justifies the abuse he and his family have received from people not in the possession of the full facts , the fact that bernard is in isolation due to health issues and cannot leave the house or receive visitors means that using or teaching IT to a 82 year old man is not possible. He has never touched a computer/tablet/smart phone so would have to start from scratch. He has however carried out his council duties by phone and not stopped doing anything he normally does.The way that all this has been handled is a disgrace and bernard has received all the abuse

  8. There is also a councillor on Lichfield City Council who, it was reported here, attended 30% of council meetings. How is she effectively representing the ward members? Never any apology nor sanctions.

  9. Again, I’ll keep saying it – the ONLY facts we are in possession of are those published here and by the council.

    Again, I’m sure he’s a lovely guy and doesn’t deserve any abuse but, again – you cannot simply refuse to NOT use technology when it is necessary to attend meetings. This is 2020.

  10. Oi, Burntwood bloke.
    How many 80 year olds in your family know how to use computers without being shown how to every time.

    There comes a time when you stop being able to our want to learn stuff like this because it’s daunting and outside of your comfort zone.

    This is just bloody cancel culture.

    As soon as people heard there was an allowance…. They went for the throat.

    Are people really that nasty?

    The internet gave everyone a voice, not everyone needs to or should be heard.

  11. Right i will say it again, BERNARD IS IN ISOLATION/LOCKDOWN DUE TO COVID GUIDELINES. HE CANNOT LEAVE THE HOUSE OR HAVE VISITORS WHO MIGHT BE ABLE TO SHOW HIM , BEFORE COVID THERE WAS NO REQUIREMENT FOR ONLINE MEETINGS AND ALL PAPERWORK WAS AND STILL IS FORWARDED TO BERNARD BY POST (IT usage is not part of the requirements to serve as a councillor) prior to the lockdown bernard had 100% attendance across the board at all required meetings , prior to all this his wife handled all of his IT/emails/correspondence, but given that she has unfortunately passed away non of this is particularly important. Please stop the character assassination of a public servant who has given a great deal of his time to helping his local community. Direct any comments towards the council

  12. Anybody who puts themselves out there on the internet is subject to vile behaviour from their fellow human beings. From local councillors to A-List celebrities, death and rape threats are constant.
    Social media really brings out the worst in people. Can you imagine an 82 year old that has no knowledge of the internet, seeing what people were saying about him? Up to this point, he was considered a good councillor and was described as an asset to the council

    However, Lichfield council really need to get their act together. Councillor attendance is a real issue when it comes to meetings and the friarsgate fiasco is going to leave people with a bad taste in their mouth. Frankly, there are no new ideas and it’s been the same people running the show for the last few decades. New blood and innovation is needed to bring lichfield into the 21st century

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