A PUBLIC backlash against plans to rename a village hall in honour of a late councillor resulted in dozens of residents storming a meeting to oppose the proposal - and multiple parish councillors have stood down from their roles as a result.

Emotional members of the community - many with former mining backgrounds - spoke out during the meeting of Great Houghton Parish Council and asked councillors to reconsider using Dorothy Higginbottom’s name.

Coun Higginbottom - a former Mayor of Barnsley - clocked up almost 55 years’ service on Great Houghton Parish Council, who use the hall as their home.

She died aged 80 in 2022 and Coun Ashley Peace, who represents the North East ward where she also served, suggested the parish council ‘consider renaming the welfare hall’ in her memory.

Coun Peace added: “Having known Dorothy as long as I did know her, she definitely wouldn’t seek the recognition.

“The point that I brought forward was to do something in recognition for everything she’s done.

“Do I think a bench is enough? No.

“What else we could look at is the name change, but only as an option.

“I’m not going to underplay Dorothy’s achievements, I for one am proud to have known her and followed her on to Barnsley Council.

“This gives an opportunity to listen and the parish council has listened - it’s clear that no decision has been made and residents’ views will be heard.

“But my original point most definitely stands: Dorothy was selfless and dedicated her life to her community, so it’s only right that we celebrate that with a fitting tribute as opposed to a token gesture.”

Her daughter, Coun Dorothy Coates - the current chair of the parish council and another North East ward representative - told residents at the meeting that their views would be considered before any firm decision is made.

However, the Chronicle can reveal the Royal Mail received notification of the name change before the meeting and, according to its website, the venue is now named the ‘Dorothy Higginbottom Miners’ Welfare Hall’.

Coun Coates added: “This is a sad issue - people have taken some elements of fact and flipped them to post their own agenda and narrative.

“The personal attacks on Facebook have been shameful and upsetting for the parish council and our families.

“We have never sought to take away ‘Miners’ Welfare Hall’ from the name - this would be a ridiculous suggestion.

“At the meeting on May 22, all parish council members conducted our meeting without any knowledge that the listing on the Royal Mail website had been changed.

“Of course this would upset people - this includes the parish council who were clearly entitled to this information and have been as shocked as everyone else by the revelation.

“However, the listing is not set in stone - we have never refused to let people speak on any subject, including this, but it just has to be at the right spot on the agenda and people should be respectful.

“We appreciate all those who attended and gave their views, they were rightly passionate and many paid tribute to my mother as they raised their concern.

“It’s a real concern when fake profiles and anonymous posts on Facebook are allowed to destroy the goodwill of a whole community and attempt to intimidate individuals, but this is today’s world.

“This whole episode appears to be a personal vendetta against myself and my family.

“Our councillors have also been badly affected by the Facebook campaign, regrettably some have now resigned.

“We simply want to pay a fitting tribute to the hard work and dedication of my mother, Dorothy Higginbottom MBE, who tirelessly gave 60 years of volunteering.

“The public should be also be clear that I did not ask for it, ask anyone to ask for it or take part in any proposing, seconding or voting.

“Great Houghton is a wonderful community and its residents have my full faith.

“Residents have sent texts, phone calls and private messages supporting me over the past few days, regardless of any agenda, simply because they care.”