Town row escalates as ‘gargoyle’ sticker campaign is launched
PUBLISHED: 16:33 07 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:07 08 June 2020
A friend of a north Norfolk town councillor has expressed “horror” at what she says is a “campaign of hate” against the former teacher, after printed ‘gargoyle’ stickers calling for her resignation were stuck on the windows of prominent local buildings and bus shelters.
Liz Withington, deputy mayor of Sheringham and a district councillor for the town’s north ward, set up a support group made up of fellow councillors and volunteers at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
However, disagreements with a rival group called Mutual Aid Sheringham (MASH), have led to conflict in the town, resulting in MASH launching a fundraising campaign for legal fees it says are needed to fight “slanderous claims” made by the town council-backed group.
Partly as a result of the row, town councillor Jon Payne last week handed a letter of resignation to town mayor Madeleine Ashcroft.
The police became involved after “Withington Resign!” hardboard signs were put up in the town centre last month, and dozens of comments making disparaging remarks about Mrs Withington’s appearance and character were posted on Facebook.
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The stickers, which were put up around the town earlier this week, feature a sinister-looking gargoyle and appear to accuse Mrs Withington of “political games and dirty tricks”.
Mrs Withington has also received “physical and verbal threats” according to a friend, who did not want to be named.
“I’ve been horrified by the personal side of it, I think it is absolutely disgusting the way Liz has been treated and something should be done to stop it,” she said.
“The whole thing has knocked her confidence; it has affected her family and she is genuinely frightened as she doesn’t know where the next blow is going to come from.”
Mrs Withington’s district council predecessor Richard Shepherd, a former policeman, has displayed one of the printed gargoyle stickers in the window of his house in Waterbank Road.
He said: “Liz has largely brought this on herself and I think that if she did resign, we wouldn’t have all the contention and the council would pull themselves together.”
Mrs Withington, who has previously said she has been “personally devastated” and feared for her own safety, said she was unable to comment on the matter as it was the subject of an ongoing police investigation.
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