Wrexham councillor accused of ‘fearmongering’ for sharing covid figures on Facebook
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
A councillor has expressed her shock after she was accused of “fearmongering” for sharing the latest coronavirus figures on Facebook.
Cllr Carrie Harper, who represents the Queensway ward, on Wrexham Council, has been providing regular updates on the number of Covid-19 cases in the county borough on social media.
The Plaid Cymru politician said she had chosen to inform residents as Wrexham currently has the highest seven-day rate of infections in the whole of Wales at 853.2 cases per 100,000 of the population.
The severity of situation has also been highlighted by a senior doctor at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, who said it was under “immense pressure” due to the rise in cases locally.
However, Cllr Harper was informed by Wrexham Council yesterday (Monday, January 11) that a complaint had been made against her by a member of the public, who said her posts were “not acceptable”.
She described the complainant’s actions as “frustrating”, but said she would not be deterred from providing people with factual information on the pandemic.
She said: “It’s quite shocking that anyone would be hostile to being given facts about Covid given the seriousness of the situation locally, Wrexham currently has the highest Covid rate in Wales unfortunately.
“It’s especially frustrating to see this attitude from a small minority given the messages we’ve had from NHS staff at the Maelor this week, with the medical director commenting that critical care and the respiratory unit are under huge pressure due to the alarming numbers.
“There is a lot of misinformation spread on social media in relation to Covid and that can be confusing, so I believe it’s vital at this time to ensure people have access to the same information we’re seeing as local representatives.”
She added: “I understand that it can be frightening but it is essential that people know what is going on locally so that they can react appropriately, Covid is a very real threat.
“We are now being given locally specific Covid updates on a Friday and Monday from the chief officer of planning and regulatory at the county council, so I’ll continue to share those to help keep people informed.”
The post which attracted the complaint was shared on the “Wrexham Town Matters” Facebook group and received more than 500 comments and shares, with some people expressing thanks for the update.
It was based on a twice-weekly bulletin issued to councillors by the local authority with the latest figures from Public Health Wales, as well as advice on how people can protect themselves from the virus.
Councillors have been actively encouraged to share the information with their constituents.
Cllr Harper has sent a response to the complaint to the authority’s monitoring officer and is currently waiting to hear the outcome.