Abusive Angus residents have been warned of a “zero tolerance” approach towards a rising tide of verbal and online abuse towards council staff involved in tackling the pandemic.
The authority said its workers are currently involved in “unprecedented levels of engagement” with residents across all areas of service.
But a worrying increase in angry phone calls and emails from locked down locals has prompted the council leader to send out a message that action will be taken against those who abuse staff.
A council spokesperson said: “Through phone-calls, emails and social media, council staff are doing their utmost to keep people informed about changes to our services, the support available and the advice and information that can assist them through this challenging period.
Council leader, Arbroath Independent David Fairweather added: “The people of Angus have been magnificent, not just in the way in which they have adapted in their everyday lives, but in the way in which they have supported the key workers across the council, other essential and voluntary organisations and, of course, the emergency services.
“We are in this together and we will come through this together.
“The public support we all receive is a crucial part of how we will succeed against this appalling virus.
“This is a difficult period, when many of our services are affected by the necessary social restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 or by staff absence.
“Many of our services have been reduced to undertaking essential and emergency work only, such as repairs to council houses.
Angus refuse team staff numbers continue to operate at around 30% below normal, but the authority has said it is continuing to make the vast majority of bin collections. Agency staff have been brought in and other workers re-deployed to boost numbers.
Mr Fairweather added: “Sadly, we have seen an increase in abusive calls and e-mails to our staff from some members of the public.
“They stand out in stark contrast against the outpouring of support from residents we have experienced in general and are unwelcome and will not be tolerated.
“These are not just dangerous times, they are frustrating times too as a result of social distancing and the way it keeps us from our loved ones and restricts our everyday lives.
“But please remember that a council worker, or any other person providing a public service, is a person too – a person who is also frustrated, perhaps even frightened for themselves or others, as they try hard to do their best for others in difficult times.
“We take a zero tolerance approach to abuse. It won’t be tolerated and we will take appropriate action against this kind of behaviour,” he said.
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