County Councilor Rebecca Wilczek for Bedlington East
County Councilor Rebecca Wilczek for Bedlington East


Councillors’ parental leave will bring council into 21st century, says Labour

Northumberland’s Labour Group is putting forward a motion to the full council to introduce parental and adoption leave, as well as support for carers.

Labour Group leader Scott Dickinson, who is proposing the motion, said: “The role of a councillor should be open to all, regardless of their background, and a parental leave policy is a step towards encouraging a wider range of working age people to become councillors. It is also a step towards encouraging existing councillors who may want to start a family or those who find themselves with caring responsibilities to remain as councillors.

“In reality it’s difficult to understand why the council has not brought this in before now. Bringing equity and equality into councillors’ terms and conditions should have already happened. We need to bring the council out of the Dark Ages.”

Beccy Wilczek, member for Bedlington East, who is seconding the motion said: “Analysis of the 2019 local election results by the Fawcett Society found that only 35 per cent of councillors in England are women. This makes little sense when over half the population is female. Dozens of councils have brought in policies on parental, adoption and carer leave for councillors. It’s about time we followed suit. 

Scott Dickinson added: “On the Labour side of the chamber over 50 per cent of the councillors are women. We already have a range of people of different age and gender. 

“This is in stark contrast to the Tory side which has only four women out of their 34 seats in the chamber. That message, in 2021, says to women, potential parents and people with caring responsibilities that the chamber is not a place for them.

“In the 21st century our council should be supportive, inclusive and it should reflect the population it serves. 

“We believe if you get this right for councillors who are parents and carers, you get it right for everyone.”

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