Hampshire council leader warns councillors to 'think carefully' following death of Sir David Amess

POLITICIANS need to rethink their daily lives following the death of an MP last month, a council leader has said.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 5:39 pm
Updated Monday, 8th November 2021, 9:04 pm

On October 15, Conservative MP Sir David Amess died after being stabbed multiple times at his constituency surgery in Essex.

At Hampshire County Council's full council meeting last week, council leader Cllr Keith Mans - who knew the late MP from their time together in parliament - led a tribute to his former colleague.

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Flowers left in memory of Sir David Amess outside the Houses of Parliament. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

He said: 'He (David Amess) has been a friend of mine for 40 years; we were on the same selection course for adopted constituents way back in 1981.

'Although I didn't agree with him on everything he believed in - as he didn't with me - the fact is he was a tremendous member of parliament.

'I think it's a sad sign of the times that these sorts of things are going on. I don't know if it's linked to social media or what, but certainly from my time in parliament I never experienced the sorts of things they experience today.'

Cllr Mans was MP for Wyre, Lancashire, from 1987 to 1997, and sat on the defence committee during his final two years in office.

The council leader also thanked Hampshire county councillors for their tributes to his friend.

But he went on to warn councillors that in the wake of David Amess' death, they cannot be too cautious.

He said: 'I think this applies to us councillors, and others in the public domain doing an important job.

'We have to think carefully about how we carry out our business in the future, bearing in mind the sort of times we live in.'

One politician who has already made changes in the interest of safety is Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.

She said: 'I'm determined to continue to serve my constituents and offer face-to-face contact, but I'm also mindful of the fact that I have a duty to keep those around me safe.

'We have had a security audit of our systems and made some changes, notably one of my biggest regrets is that we can't offer drop-in surgeries anymore, they will be by appointment only.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said: 'The tragic death of Sir David Amess is the second incident in five years an MP has died in their constituency whilst serving the people they represent, so it’s right for an immediate review of MPs’ security to have been ordered.

'A vital part of our democracy is MPs being able to be both visible and accountable to their constituents, listening to views and concerns and taking them back to Westminster. This important link to the people we serve has come under threat in recent years and understandably some MPs will be concerned by this, but those who seek to intimate cannot, and will not, prevail.

'The security of my office and staff is a priority and the necessary security protocols are followed. I will wait to see what the outcomes are of the home secretary’s review, but it’s clear now changes need to be made.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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