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Be A Councillor, Be The Change You Want To See

Councils are encouraging more women and people from under-represented groups to consider standing as candidates at the next local elections.

All councils are developing local action plans and signing Diverse Council declarations to push for progress to ensure council chambers are more representative of the communities they serve. Council leaders were updated on activity and progress at WLGA Council on Friday (November 26), which followed an online workshop with WENWales earlier in the week to discuss engagement, talent spotting, mentoring and support.    

Councillor Jane Mudd (Newport), WLGA Spokesperson for Equality ,said: “We have seen some progress in recent years in our councils becoming more diverse places. But we need to work to hasten the pace of those changes. I’m pleased that councils are progressing the ambitious actions pledged earlier this year, with all councils anticipated to make public ‘Diverse Councils’ declarations by the end of this year.”

“It was great to jointly host a workshop with WEN Wales to share ideas and experiences and look at how we can work together in this area to encourage more women to become councillors. Working in partnership with all stakeholders is integral to keep pushing for change.”

“We all know that we need role models to reflect broader views and inspire a new, more diverse generation of civic leaders to consider standing for office. And we know we need to make significant strides at next May’s elections if we are going to make our council chambers reflective of the communities they serve.”

“Being a councillor is not an easy role. It is however hugely rewarding; You can get things done. You can give voice to the seldom heard. You can make a real difference to people’s lives.

“I would urge anyone who might be interested in finding out more about the role to visit the website or contact their local council, where you’ll find a range of useful resources.”

Despite some progress in recent years, women account for only six of Wales’ 22 council leaders and only 28% of councillors. A further 11% of councillors are disabled, and only 1.8% are from a Black or Minority Ethnic background.

Earlier this year, the WLGA committed to a range of ambitious commitments to help promote diversity in democracy, including:

  • to encourage all political parties, through the WLGA Political Groups, to commit to proactive and coordinated activities to improve diversity in local government democracy;
  • a formal position calling for the introduction of resettlement grants for all councillors and senior salary holders;
  • to encourage all councillors to claim any necessary allowances or expenses;
  • to encourage a declaration from councils in Wales, on becoming ‘Diverse Councils’; to:
    • Provide a clear, public commitment to improving diversity;
    • Demonstrate an open and welcoming culture to all;
    • Consider staggering council meeting times and agreeing recess periods to support councillors with other commitments; and
    • Set out an action plan of activity ahead of the 2022 local elections.
  • that councils should set targets to be representative of the communities they serve at the next elections;
  • to support the use of voluntary quotas for Welsh local elections; and
  • the WLGA reviews the impact of voluntary quotas following the next local elections.
Posted on 29/11/2021