A COUNCILLOR will step down after receiving death threats and being followed home from meetings.

City Councillor Karen Barford, 47, Labour member for Queen’s Park ward in Brighton, has announced she will not seek re-election in 2019.

She said offensive and threatening messages, phone calls and behaviour by members of the public had contributed to her decision.

The council leader Dan Yates called it a “black day” for the city.

Cllr Barford told The Argus the threats had upset her family and she did not want the specific details published, but said: “It’s been going on for a long time, the first time was shortly after I was elected [in 2015].

“You expect a certain level of abuse but when it becomes personal or affects your safety that’s different.”

The mother of four said she had been threatened by email and over the phone and had been followed home from council meetings. She said she was keen to see out the term for which she had been elected, but with selection season looming had decided not to seek another.

She said: “I feel that the time is right to pass the baton on to fresh talent who can represent the ward and take the city forward to achieve its ambitions.

“It has been a huge honour to represent the residents of Queen’s Park ward and those of the city through my role as lead for adult social care and now as chair of the health and wellbeing board.”

She will continue to chair the health and wellbeing board for the remainder of her term.

Councillor Dan Yates said: “Karen has been an exceptional councillor since her election in 2015.

“Her decision to not seek re-election will leave the council and the city poorer as a result and the impact of those who have chosen to threaten and intimidate her, and other councillors in recent years, must be condemned by all those who care about public service.

“The impact of their actions should not be underestimated both for Karen herself and for those considering standing for public office in the future.

“It is a black day in the history of our city that any public-minded citizen has to choose safety over service.”