‘Staring stalker’ made Keighley councillor 'sick to the stomach'

Councillor Margaret Ward

Councillor Margaret Ward

First published in Keighley by

A Keighley town councillor described how she felt “sick to her stomach” after reading somebody boasting on Facebook that he repeatedly drives past her house and stares through her kitchen window.

Coun Margaret Ward, a former town mayor, was so disturbed with what she read on the social networking site she contacted police, who have since issued a verbal warning to the man.

The post was made on the Cavetown Council group page, which was recently set up to “make Keighley Town Council more accountable” and has almost 250 members.

One of the members made a comment on Saturday that Coun Ward felt went far beyond constructive criticism of council policies.

It read: “I keep driving past Councillor Ward’s house, stop the car outside her kitchen window and just stare.”

Coun Ward, 66, is a retired teacher who lives in Exley Head. She has represented the Fell Lane and Westburn ward since 2007.

She added: “This group is consistently giving the council a bad press, but this is verging on the criminal.

“When I heard about it I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t sleep that night. I left a message on the neighbourhood policing line and they came and spoke to me the next day.”

The comment came just days after Coun Ward attended a meeting of the council to discuss the coming year’s budget. She seconded a motion to raise the local authority’s council tax precept by 72.6 per cent, a move many see as highly unpopular. She believes this decision may have made her a target for council critics.

Coun Ward added: “The police had a word with the man and I was told afterwards he felt extremely sorry.

“I don’t know if it was because I seconded the motion for the precept rise that I was targeted. It is just nasty, and very upsetting. If he does it again he is liable for a charge of harassment.”

West Yorkshire Police confirmed they had spoken to the person who posted the message. A spokesman said: “A PCSO has been round to talk to the councillor, who explained what happened. We have given a local man a verbal warning.”

Elizabeth Mitchell, the Keighley woman who started the Facebook page, said she knew nothing of the post or the police complaint.

Coun Tony Wright, who proposed the precept rise, condemned the Facebook posting. He said: “We did expect the decision to cause controversy, but for a councillor to attract stalkers because they make an unpopular decision is beyond the pale.”

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