A senior councillor in Trafford has told how she has had to take out restraining orders against three men she says have subjected her to misogynistic abuse.

Labour Coun Jo Harding, the town hall’s executive member for finance, change and governance, made the shocking revelation as councillors discussed a ‘Debate Not Hate’ campaign launched by the Local Government Association (LGA).

Another councillor, Conservative Rupali Paul, said she has been the victim of misogynistic and racist abuse.

At the latest full council meeting, a motion backing the LGA’s campaign was proposed by Conservative opposition leader Nathan Evans.

During the discussion, Cllr Harding told the chamber: “As a female councillor I have endured incredible misogyny and it has got worse.

“I have taken out a restraining order against three men for the level of abuse they have directed at me and I’ve had people turning up at my front door.

“I’m sure that many women in this chamber will agree with me that some of the misogyny that is directed at them is unacceptable. I don’t want any of my colleagues to face any of the abuse that I have had.”

She said she agreed with Cllr Evans’ point people ‘are entitled to views and opinions’ and added: “But we don’t deserve death threats, and that is how serious it can be.”

Cllr Harding said that she had been part of a working group with the LGA. “Frankly some of the responses and stories from councillors were horrifying,” she continued.

"If we want good councillors and we want people to come forward and represent their communities we should feel supported to be able to do this role and express views.”

Cllr Paul seconded her Conservative colleague Cllr Evans’ motion saying: “It is very difficult for many minority groups to feel able to get in politics at any level.

“As a local councillor, I have experienced abuse and unfortunately abuse of a racial nature.”

She said that women in politics are dealing with ‘an extraordinarily harsh misogynistic environment which targets them in a gender-based manner’. “It does not target men in the same way,” she said.

“People from all backgrounds should feel able to participate in politics and any level without having to face a toxic, abusive and hateful environment where they are attacked based upon their minority status.”

Cllr Liz Patel, Trafford’s Trafford’s executive member for economy and regeneration, said: “Representation matters.  We need more people of minority and ethnic backgrounds and more women to come forward into politics.

“Thank you to Cllrs Harding and Paul for sharing their personal stories. I am very sorry to hear that you’ve experienced misogynistic and racist abuse in your role as councillors.”

Liberal Democrat Cllr Will Frass said that his party had supported the move to stop family home addresses being published online [last year] when the issue of abuse of councillors was raised.

“Members of my group have had people turn up on their doorstep over the years,” he said. “It’s never really been appropriate. My only concern is that we are elected to public office.

“Someone has got to call these things out because it is our responsibility.”

The council voted through a version of Cllr Evans’ motion which was amended slightly by the Greens backing the LGA campaign.