East Cambs believes they’re bucking the trend - marginally -with three of top five council officers all women

Women in key positions at East Cambs Council: deputy leader Cllr Anna Bailey (left) with (top right)

Women in key positions at East Cambs Council: deputy leader Cllr Anna Bailey (left) with (top right) officers Emma Grima, Jo Brooks, Maggie Camp and vice chairman Cllr Lis Every. - Credit: Archant

With three of the top five officer roles at East Cambs District Council held by women, operations director Jo Brooks is confident they are bucking the national trend.

Ms Brooks was commenting on a report published today by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) that highlights the lack of women across local government.

The report says when it comes to councillors than 3000 women are needed to reach 50:50 gender balance in local government

The analysis finds that just a third of councillors are women, with this figure dropping to 17 per cent amongst council leaders.

In the new mayoral combined authority boards only four per cent of constituent members are women and all six are led by men. In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough all seven local council leaders serving on the board are men.

The new report - Power to the People? - tackles the gender imbalance in combined authorities and local government and finds that women face a number of barriers particularly in entering local government and progression into leadership roles:

Ms Brooks welcomes the findings of the report but believes East Cambs is in many ways ahead of the rest.

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“We are proud that three out of five of our officer senior management team are women,” she said. “Also politically, our deputy leader and vice-chairman of the council are female.”

She said: “We believe that addressing these issues starts from introducing young people to politics and the work of the local councils at an early age.

“In the past year we have worked with local primary schools to help us design our new recycling hero and during the early months of 2017, Michael Recycle visited school assemblies across the district to encourage children to recycle more at home.

Ms Brook added: “Before the end of the school year, the school council from Littleport Primary School visited East Cambs to take part in a mock election. This gave pupils the opportunity to learn about the voting process; from receiving a ballot paper, to voting in a polling station and what happens at an election count.

“As part of the day, we also hosted a Q&A session with two of our local councillors.

“By continuing to find ways in which the council can engage with young people, we hope that this will attract more young people to consider politics and local government as a career option.”