A Kirklees councillor claims he’s been subjected to serious threats and intimidation in the countdown to the local elections.

Clr Ammar Anwar said he received a “menacing” phone call while out campaigning and then found someone “waiting” outside his house when he returned home.

Writing on social media, Clr Anwar said he’d been threatened and was forced to dial 999 as soon as he arrived home in the early hours of Friday when he found someone waiting for him. His wife, children and mother were in the house at the time.

Clr Anwar, who represents Dewsbury West, quit the Labour Party in January over its stance on the Gaza conflict. He’s since become part of the newly-formed Kirklees Community Independents Group.

In his Facebook post, Clr Anwar described what happened as the “most disheartening event I have witnessed in my over 20-year political career” and added: “I refuse to let these bullies emerge victorious.”

He went on: “In the United Kingdom, we cherish freedom of speech and the right to participate in local and national politics, values that must always be safeguarded.

“Personally, I harbour no ill will towards anyone; my political stance involves challenging the status quo and opposing those who seek to undermine our democratic rights through intimidating tactics.

“These individuals will not succeed. Our commitment remains unwavering.”

Clr Anwar told Huddersfield Hub that Friday’s incident was the culmination of weeks of threats which had made his life “hell.” He said he’d had CCTV installed, had been sleeping on the sofa and never went out alone. He’d even stopped going to the supermarket and ordered home deliveries instead.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said officers were called and following enquiries a Dewsbury man was arrested on suspicion of public order offences. He was released on conditional bail and enquiries are continuing.

Clr Ammar Anwar

Another incident of harassment towards a councillor was also made public at a Cabinet meeting in February.

Labour group chief whip Clr Will Simpson (Denby Dale) said a political opponent had published on public forums that they knew where he lived and had “encouraged people on those forums to come to my home to abuse me.”

Clr Simpson said he had subsequently received a threatening letter, opened by his partner making claims about his health, and a “claim of harassment had been recorded by West Yorkshire Police.”

In response council leader Clr Cathy Scott (Lab, Dewsbury East) told the meeting: “Any form of intimidation to any elected member – or anybody – is not acceptable and I would encourage anybody, any harassment, report it to the police and also report it to Standards as well.”

She added: “It’s not acceptable behaviour and that’s not part of what Kirklees is about.”

In April the leaders of the five groups on Kirklees Council signed a joint pledge to campaign “respectfully” in the run up to the local elections.

Labour leader Clr Scott signed along with Tory leader David Hall (Liversedge & Gomersal), Liberal Democrat leader John Lawson (Cleckheaton), Kirklees Community Independents Group leader Clr Jo Lawson (Crosland Moor & Netherton) and Green group leader Clr Andrew Cooper (Newsome).

As part of the pledge, councillors “signalled their condemnation of personal abuse on social media.”

The pledge states: “All leaders of political groups on Kirklees Council are committed to a respectful election campaign in 2024 and would like to make it clear that the use of personal abuse on social media will neither form part of an election campaign nor be tolerated.

“We will ensure that any abusive posts are investigated and, if appropriate, referred to the police.”

Kirklees Council elections 2024 – who’s standing, voter ID, how to get a postal vote and when the election results will be known