Magazine article Public Finance

New Drive for Better Mix of Councillors

Magazine article Public Finance

New Drive for Better Mix of Councillors

Article excerpt

A new government-sponsored commission is to examine ways to encourage more young people, women and individuals from ethnic minorities to become councillors.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Ruth Kelly announced the commission this week in the light of new figures showing that members are overwhelmingly white, middle-aged and male.

A census of councillors, conducted jointly by the Local Government Association and the Improvement and Development Agency, revealed that only 4% of councillors are from a non-white ethnic minority background, fewer than 30% are women, and the average age is 58.

Kelly said: 'There is a democratic deficit in our town halls which means not everybody's voice is being heard. By getting a better balance at the local level we can get the best people for our councils - and the best councils for our people.'

The commission takes forward a pledge made in the local government white paper and will be led by Dame Jane Roberts, the former leader of Camden council. The group will make practical recommendations on how to remove the barriers that discourage people from becoming councillors, such as problems with getting time off work or the restrictions on who can become one. It will report by November this year. …

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