St Albans People 'rules'

Are you a social media bully?

Couple selling their home shocked after charity workers uploaded it onto Facebook for public thrashing

St Albans People 'rules'
Bullying isn’t allowed…

Claimed owners were ‘deluded’ as they deemed the ‘ugly’ £750,000 property too expensive

Selling your home is stressful enough. But beware if you live in St Albans – for your property could be uploaded onto the local Facebook website so people can give their very public opinions.

The home’s owners were devastated after St Albans People Facebook group moderator Sharon Linney chose their property for the Saturday night ‘entertainment’ – asking people ‘Anyone fancy it’.

St Albans People Facebook group’s rules state ‘Bullying of any kind isn’t allowed’.

Despite this Ms Linney soon had a flurry of comments on her post. One man claimed the sellers were ‘deluded’, someone else stated how ‘ridiculous’ house prices in St Albans were, especially this one. Others bragged about living in their ‘affordable’ council properties. Especially said one lady as she gets ‘all repairs free, new boiler, new windows and doors… and a new roof’.

Local Verulam radio DJ Colin Toms said: ‘You can live across the road (in the high rise flats opposite which was recently investigated by the Police for suspected drug use and anti-social behaviour) for a third of the price’ to which charity stalwart Sharon Linney replied, referring to the estate where the property is, ‘I’ve never liked them and certainly do not like the price.”

District councillor Liz Needham agreed, adding you also “get a better view” from the high rise flats across the road.

All very entertaining … but is it trolling?

While such posts are probably not illegal and may be construed as free speech, the couple, who expect their first baby and whose much loved  home was pulled apart, were extremely upset by what they see as bullying behaviour. After all, our homes are of course very personal to us. Where you live can be a very sensitive issue. In this case, they have worked incredibly hard to buy their home.

Indeed it is hard to understand why Sharon Linney, a community action officer for St Albans Action for Homeless thought uploading a neighbour’s property like this would be good fun. After all her motto is lovewhereyoulive and family.

According to the Liberal Democrats website councillor Liz Needham ‘is widely known for her strong sense of community values’.  She is also the Director of the charity St Albans Action For the Homeless and Chair of the Board of Trustees for Welwyn and Hatfield Women’s Refuge. How does posting like this on Facebook about someone’s home in her community fit with these?

Incredibly I only knew about this post because the property belongs to a close relative of mine and someone who saw the post recognised that Liz Needham is my accountant and forwarded it to me.

When I contacted Ms Needham to say I was shocked about this, she dismissed it as ‘nonsense’. She said: I’m sorry if my off the cuff remark … upset you. Obviously this was not my intention as I did not even know you had a property there.’

The inference seems to be she is only sorry because it turned out the place belonged to someone she knows.

I suspect Ms Needham and Ms Linney and all the other people who thought it good fun to have a pop on a Saturday night believe they are not trolls, but my personal opinion – and having seen first hand the hurt they caused – is that this sort of behaviour on social media is absolutely that.

Certainly bizarre considering they clearly see themselves as the sort of people who help the community rather than harm it.

I raised the post with Facebook and it has since been removed. And Liz Needham, who had anyway become very difficult to contact recently (probably because she is so busy with being a councillor and all the charity work) has been let go from her accountancy duties for me.

I asked Liz Needham and Sharon Linney if they had any comments or insight as to why they thought this post was ok but they have so far declined to comment. I also asked St Albans MP Daisy Cooper (Lib Dem) if she had anything to say about her colleague’s behaviour but she too has remained silent.

Have you had an issue with St Albans People Facebook group or another Facebook group?  I believe it is in the public interest to expose hurtful behaviour on social media so do let me know below…



Alison Smith-Squire

Alison Smith-Squire is a writer, journalist and media agent selling exclusive real life stories to newspapers, magazines and TV. She owns the sell my story website, which was set up to help ordinary people sell their stories to the press.

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