Bristol

'Shocking' lack of diversity on councils say campaigners

Simon Woolley
Image caption Simon Woolley from Operation Black Vote said it was time for a cohesive plan to encourage more Bame people into politics

A "shocking" lack of diversity among local councillors needs to be urgently addressed by political parties, campaigners have said.

Elections are due to take place in May in South Gloucestershire, Bath and North East Somerset and North Somerset.

Of the 200 councillors, none is from black, Asian or minority ethnic (Bame) backgrounds, and just over 30% are female.

The campaign group Operation Black Vote said it was time for a "wake-up call".

'More dynamic'

Director Simon Woolley said: "There needs to be a willingness and there needs to be a plan to ensure minority voices have the same route in which they can have a place.

"When you have local authorities that are more diverse, more gender, more disabilities and more minorities, everybody wins because the nature of debate is more inclusive and dynamic.

"We then have policies that better respond to the change in communities that you are seeking to serve."

Louise Harris, Liberal Democrat campaign committee chair for South Gloucestershire, called the statistics "shocking".

'Certain type'

She said: "Unfortunately your typical councillor is still white, male, middle-aged and middle class which is something the whole of local democracy is working hard to get past but undoubtedly it's difficult.

"When you work full-time, you can't do it full-time unless you have another form of income and that is definitely the main reason why it does attract a certain type of person."

Jyo Buddharaju, the Conservative candidate for South Gloucestershire who moved to the UK from India 10 years ago, said "a lack of awareness" was the issue.

Image caption Bristol's deputy mayor Asher Craig said she had been subjected to racism

She said: "People are not aware, especially from my background, of the fact they can actually stand and serve their community."

Labour councillor Asher Craig, deputy Mayor on Bristol council, said she had been subjected to racism during her political career.

She said: "There is racism to contend with, and I get a lot of that regardless of whether I'm a cabinet member or a councillor.

"So what people don't see... is what you get being a councillor; then it's a double whammy if you are a woman and a triple whammy as a black woman."

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