Death threats and abusive messages are destroying the traditionally ‘open’ relationship between councillors and voters.

The problem involves councillors across the political spectrum.

Deputy leader and lead member for Windsor on the Royal Borough Cllr Phill Bicknell (Con: Park) said: “I have received a death threat in the past which is why my home address is no longer published by the council.

“It is a shame in this day and age. We want to be open and transparent, but I have young children I have to consider. They aren’t responsible for people getting upset with me.”

He said that the development of social media had changed the way people reacted when they were angry with the council.

He said: “It used to be someone getting agitated in the council building. Now emails can go flying back and forth until someone becomes really belligerent and once you have pressed that button you can’t retract it.”

Cllr Lynne Jones, who is an Independent councillor representing Old Windsor also had her address taken out of public domain – but in her case it was not because of a threat on the social media, but followed a ‘face to face’ incident in the village over an issue involving the council.

She said: “I was not sure the person concerned would leave it at that and you have to think of other people apart from yourself.

“You have to give a reason to the council’s monitoring officer why you want your address removed and mine was accepted.”

She said she had never had problems on social media.

“If you listen to someone’s views and don’t deny their right to have those views it need not get aggressive.”

Council staff can also be targeted.

Two council service users who sent ‘excessive, obscene and abusive’ emails to officers were put on to a ‘cautionary’ contacts list.

Cllr Bicknell said that the borough supported members of staff who received emails that went too far and became threatening.

He said: “They are able to report it to their line manager and there are systems in place to see they are supported if that happens.”