Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services (copy attached), to bring to the attention of Members, the WLGA’s Diversity in Democracy Programme.



The Leader, Councillor Hugh Evans, introduced the Diversity in Democracy report (previously circulated) to bring to the attention of members the WLGA’s Diversity and Democracy Programme and the actions approved by the WLGA Council, together with a request for all Welsh Councils to commit to becoming ‘Diverse Councils’.

The WLGA had an ambitious Diversity and Democracy Programme to try and ensure that council chambers were more representative of the communities they serve. They had been considering ways in which greater diversity could be achieved following the local government elections in May 2022.


In September 2018 the WLGA Council agreed to take steps to advance gender equality and diversity in Councils before the 2022 elections. This was in recognition of the lack of diversity in Welsh Councils. A cross party working group was set up to explore broader underrepresentation in democracy. At a special meeting held in March of this year the WLGA Council received a report from that cross party working group with proposals designed to achieve a step change in diversity following the 2022 elections.


The WLGA Council agreed unanimously that a concerted and collective effort would be required across the local government family and political parties. As a result of that meeting, a letter had been sent to each local authority in Wales, signed by each of the leaders of the political groups represented on the WLGA Council. A copy of that letter had been attached as Appendix 2 to the report previously circulated.


Commitment was sought to the following declaration:


This Council commits to being a Diverse Council.


We agree to:


·         Provide a clear public commitment to improving diversity in democracy

·         Demonstrate an open and welcoming culture to all, promoting the highest standards of behaviour and conduct

·         Set out a local Diverse Council Action Plan ahead of the 2022 local elections Demonstrate a commitment to a duty of care for Councillors

·         Provide flexibility in council business by reviewing our practical arrangements for the holding of meetings

·         Ensure that all members are aware of the allowances and salaries to which they are entitled, particularly any reimbursement for costs of care, so that all members receive fair remuneration for their work and that the role of member is not limited to those who can afford it.


If the declaration was to be endorsed a more detailed report would be presented to the Democratic Services Committee to develop a Diverse Council Action Plan ahead of the 2022 local government elections.


During discussions, the following points were raised:


·         Councillor Tony Thomas raised the issue that in the past upon his nomination to be a Councillor he had to resign from his post as a teacher.  The Head of Legal, HR and Democratic Services confirmed that the WLGA had been looking into that aspect of the nomination process.

·         Councillor Bobby Feeley raised the gender balance of Denbighshire County Council.  14 of the Councillors were female, 1 member of Cabinet was female and only one Chair of various Committees were female.  This did require a cultural change as, in her opinion, a lot of women did not see themselves in politics.   With regards to older councillors, they did bring a lot of experience to the role so a diverse council would be more appropriate.

·         It was stated that due to covid, meetings had been taking place remotely.  Remote meetings would give more people an opportunity to stand, as would not take up time travelling to and from meeting venues.  This was especially beneficial if a working person wished to stand as a councillor in the future.

·         The issue of abuse to councillors from members of the public, especially female councillors was raised.  This would not be tolerated and hoped this would not deter people from putting themselves forward to stand as a councillor in the future. 

·         It was confirmed that a key part of the declaration would be to encourage an extremely high standard of conduct from councillors.

·         The diversity of the council was to encourage prospective candidates regarding of gender, age, race, ethnicity, disability etc., to stand as councillors.

·         Roadshows were to be held in various areas to enable as much information as possible to be passed on to members of the public who would be interested in standing as a prospective candidate in the future.  


Proposed by Councillor Mark Young and seconded by Councillor Bobby Feeley to accept the report.


A vote took place and it was unanimously agreed to accept the report.



(i)            Council notes the content and actions outlined within the WLGA Council report and letter contained in Appendices 1 and 2.

(ii)          Council commits to being a ‘Diverse Council’ and supports the principles set out in the draft declaration in Appendix 3.

(iii)         the Democratic Services Committee is tasked with developing a Diverse Council Action Plan ahead of the 2022 local government elections.


Supporting documents: