“She does not represent us”: Parish Councillor Under Investigation Following Complaints From Residents.

Anthea Brownrigg of Ecclesfield Parish Council, is facing an investigation by Sheffield City Council after a number of residents in the Chapeltown ward which she represents, complained about content posted and shared on her social media accounts.

Concerns were raised after a range of content posted on her social media profiles over the last few months was shared to a local forum. The posts drew widespread criticism from local residents, with many leaving comments such as “disturbing to say the least” and “to think she’s supposed to support the local community – what a joke”. Others were quick to call her views outdated with one person saying, “This post has demonstrated just how out of touch she is with modern life” and another adding, “There is no place for her vile, outdated views in today’s world.” Since her comments came to light, numerous local residents are believed to have made their concerns known to Sheffield City Council.

The social media posts, which have since been deleted, range from conspiracy theories about the US election and the idea that the Coronavirus Pandemic was planned, to homophobic comments and evidence of an intolerance for different faiths and religious denominations. Last month, Councillor Brownrigg also joined a Facebook group called ‘Get Entertainment, Shops, Tourism, Activities & Pubs Open’ which uses the acronym G.E.S.T.A.P.O. The group appears to be rallying against the government and the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19. One post claims that mandatory masks are in violation of the Nuremberg Code, a set of research ethics principles for human experimentation created following the atrocities of World War Two. More recently there has been a number of posts shared pertaining to the Covid-19 vaccine, with Councillor Brownrigg herself captioning one, “Share this video to as many people as possible. DO NOT HAVE THE VACCINE”.

We spoke to a number of local people who were keen to share their thoughts.

Local resident Julie told us: “There are certain things when you are an elected member that fall under a code of conduct. Everyone is entitled to their views through freedom of speech, however when you are in a public position you have to be careful how you express those views. She considers herself to be a Christian and hides her bigoted views behind this. In my view she is both racist and homophobic, and is not averse to saying this.”

Alyson Clark, local resident and business owner remarked: “As a member of the community, a mother to two children who go to school locally, and a business owner, I worry for the upbringing of the next generation; seeing comments from Anthea which state pure racism and homophobic views. It’s giving the next generation nothing to look up to. It’s setting a terrible example to so many people and she is bringing nothing but shame and embarrassment on the community and the council people hope to be able to depend on.”

Another concerned local, who wished not to be named told us: “She is one of the most vile, intolerant and bigoted people I have ever had the misfortune to meet. I do not believe someone like her should be permitted to serve on our Parish Council.“

Fellow Parish Councillor Paul Swift, who represents Burncross said: “As a Parish Councillor Anthea makes everything personal and attacks individuals personally if they don’t agree with her. She is always right, everyone else is wrong. As someone who states she is an active Christian, I would have hoped she would be more understanding and forgiving, but it seems anyone who has an opposing view gets attacked..”

Another local resident who wished to remain anonymous had this to say: “Ms Brownrigg has openly published racist, homophobic, and religious intolerance, and extremist views on her social media accounts, and has viciously targeted two local businesses, with homophobic views as her motivation. As a Jewish woman and an ethnic minority, I absolutely do not feel that she represents me or my community, or that I could rely on her to be fair and impartial if I, or other members of my community, were to need her assistance in any matter. If this woman was an Islamist extremist, and posting similarly extremist views and propaganda, she would be under intense scrutiny and unlikely to remain in her position. Her views, as a ‘Christian’, are no less extreme, and no less dangerous; despite claiming that she is a Christian, none of her views and hate speech are remotely Christian in nature, so she cannot even claim to represent the Christians in her community.”

Local resident and business owner Brad Smith told us: “I am disgusted that someone with very dated and vile views can represent Chapeltown, yet Chapeltown is a diverse, nice, caring community. Sheffield City Council are aware of Anthea’s views and if they don’t act now, I would see them as supporting her racist and homophobic views – this isn’t the Sheffield I know. She should be removed and her husband (Vice Chair of Ecclesfield Parish Council) should also stand down so we know she is no longer having a say in Chapeltown, a lovely, kind place that welcomes all.”

Scott Jackson runs a local pub with his partner and has been “disgusted” by what he’s seen on Anthea’s social media. “This woman is supposed to represent the views of a parish, people live here from the gay community and I see posts basically telling her parishioners that being gay is a sin. I know there are ethnic minority folk living in this community also and she is posting racist videos and making racist comments. I’m stunned! I for one do not wish this person to represent our community and think she should be removed forthwith.”

While it’s not yet clear what the result of these allegations may be, it is apparent that many Chapeltown residents do not feel that Councillor Anthea Brownrigg represents their community.

Councillor Brownrigg was approached for comment, however no reply was received.

Louisa Merrick-White

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