A Labour councillor elected at the young age of 21 has been driven out of local politics by personal abuse before she turned 30.
Lauren Cassidy, 29, said she would not seek re-election to Halton Council in May after finding politics had become “increasingly toxic” and abuse had become “part of the job”.
The Norton North councillor told the ECHO: “There’s a balance between what you’re willing to put up with and what change you are able to effect.
“I feel like I can probably effect as much change outside the town hall as I can inside it, and not have to put up with that level of abuse.”
Ms Cassidy, who has been a councillor for eight years, said the move was something she had been considering “for a while”, adding that abuse was particularly difficult for young, working-class women who had to “work harder and shout louder to be heard”.
She said: “You see the things people say about you, you hear the things people say.
“Often people don’t see the work that you do and jump to this conclusion that the reasons you’re in politics are just completely clouded.
“People are very quick to criticise without getting the facts.”
In a Facebook post announcing her decision, Cllr Cassidy added: “I should note, there is an increasingly toxic atmosphere that representatives at all levels are being subjected to, with personal abuse becoming part of the job.
“The level of personal abuse has increased year on year in my time on the Council – not legitimate disagreements – personal abuse, and it really needs to be called out and stopped.”
Abuse directed towards politicians, and particularly female politicians, has become increasingly prevalent in recent years with several MPs citing it as a reason for standing down in last year’s election.
Former Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger said personal abuse was one of the factors that drove her out of the Labour Party, while former Conservative and Liberal Democrat MP Heidi Allen decided she would not fight the 2019 election due to “the nastiness and intimidation that has become commonplace”.
Cllr Cassidy also stressed that abuse in politics was becoming a national problem, pointing to comments made about Labour leadership hopeful Rebecca Long-Bailey’s appearance.
She said: “I’m not sure how we solve that. I think it would start with people not putting up with it and not accepting it’s part of the job, because it isn’t.”
However, Cllr Cassidy said she was “not disillusioned” with politics and still wanted to play a role in her community, adding that she did not need to be a councillor to campaign on issues such as food banks and period poverty.
She said: “I’m not going to step away altogether from politics. It’s important to be part of a solution.
“I would never say I would never go back and be involved as an elected representative, but things need to change.”