Study reveals male domination of councils

Susan Hinchcliffe
Susan Hinchcliffe
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THE male domination of local government is revealed by new figures showing just one-in-three councillors is a woman.

Fewer than one-in-five council leaders are women and all six of the new metro-mayors elected in May, in areas which have agreed devolution deals with the Government, were men.

The study by the IPPR thinktank found that on current trends it would take almost 70 years to achieve gender balance in councils.

Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe recently became the only female chairman of a combined authority as she took the helm at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

She said: “Local authorities should reflect the diversity of the communities we serve and I absolutely support the call for greater commitments to address the depressingly small number of senior female leaders in our sector.

“I am proud to be a female council leader – supported by a female chief executive, Kersten England – and to have been recently appointed the only woman in the country to lead a combined authority.

“It cannot be right though in 2017, when more women are being elected to Parliament, that my situation is still the exception and not the norm in local government.”

The IPPR report recommends political parties pursue a range of initiatives to help increase the number of women involved in local government.

It suggests the law should be used to ensure a minimum 40:60 gender split in elected council roles if voluntary action fails.

Coun Marianne Overton, vice-chairman of the Local Government Association, said efforts to improve gender balance were already underway.

She said: “This report rightly highlights that progress in achieving gender balance in local government should be made at a faster pace. All parts of local government must be reflective of the communities they represent and be at the forefront of driving the level of change required.”