A COUNCILLOR was labelled ‘unprofessional’ by an anonymous Twitter account after her three-year-old son crashed an online council meeting.

Cllr Kate Walsh was standing in for a councillor who was too sick to attend the Hyndburn scrutiny meeting when her son Arthur decided he wanted to see what was going on.

After a three-minute battle the mum-of-two decided to switch off her camera.

Now the Rishton Labour councillor is standing up for herself saying the incident highlighted how difficult it is to juggle life’s demands in a pandemic.

She said: “Arthur wanted to look at things on the screen and wanted to be on the screen.

“It was a public meeting so I was thinking about how many people would have seen it. I tried to keep him off the screen by blurring him but he was still there so I decided to turn off my camera.

“He got more upset when he could not see himself on the screen.

“I was actually substituting for another councillor who was sick so I was doing a favour for a colleague.

“I wasn’t well myself that day and had spent the whole afternoon reading reports to prepare for the meeting.

“Unfortunately the meeting is after pre-school so Arthur was home. I felt as though everybody had been seeing me battling with him.”

Cllr Walsh posted on Twitter ‘A little snapshot of a three-minute battle with my toddler while in a live meeting...in the end I turned my camera off.”

She received a reply from an account called ‘HyndburnLabour’ which said: “You wouldn’t take your 3-year-old to a council meeting so please act in the professional manner expected of a councillor and leader of the community when it’s a virtual meeting #unprofessional #hyndburn #conservatives #tories.”

The twitter account’s biog says: “This account is to highlight the poor quality of local politics in Hyndburn and is not run by Hyndburn Labour party. #hyndburn #labour #shoddypolitics”

Cllr Walsh added: “I have had lots of positive comments about it (the tweet) as everyone else has been there and had their kids disturbing meetings.

“We live in a two up and two down what am I supposed to do with him? I cannot lock him away and I don’t have an office to take myself away to. You don’t always have access to childcare.

“We think the people behind the account know us because they mention my son is three but I have looked and I have never mentioned how old he is – or they are just obsessed.

“I get quite a lot of online abuse and can’t go on any sites as I will be targeted. You have to walk away from these things.”

The Rishton councillor added that she knows she is not alone in getting online abuse.

She said: “I am well aware that I am not the only one because I am a young woman but I said in the meeting that some of my male colleagues get threats of violence and BAME councillors are also getting abuse.”

At Thursday’s full Hyndburn Council meeting a motion, proposed by Cllr Jenny Molineux, about trolling on social media was passed.

It suggested “the chief executive ask the local government leaders of all political parties represented within this council to write to the Prime Minister asking for the law to be changed to make it an offence to troll and to deliberately denigrate all elected members”.

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Council, said: “You find on social media at all times of the year, there are certain people who troll for whatever reason.

“There is no need for it as family life is an important part of life and this is not the 1950s and Hyndburn Council want to encompass everyone.

“It is sad thing but until some sort of legislation is brought in to stop it then it will continue.”

Last week Hyndburn MP Sara Britcliffe told the House of Commons about how she faced a ‘barrage of online abuse’ after she became an MP.