UNANIMOUS support for a new bid to attract younger councillors in Worcester has been welcomed by a leading city Green Party politician.
Coun Majory Bisset spoke after Worcester City Council approved a new parental leave policy for councillors at a meeting of the whole council last Tuesday (February 21).
In a 2022 survey the average age of councillors across the country was 59.5 years old with 59 per cent of councillors male, and 41 per cent female.
No legal right to parental leave was in place for any kind of public office in Worcester or further afield according to Coun Bisset.
She was inspired to act and propose a parental leave policy after witnessing councillors struggle to fulfill their duties, sometimes within days of giving birth.
The move comes in the same week a Conservative MP returned from maternity leave after previously revealing she had endured abuse from constituents who had berated her for taking time off.
Thea Clarke said: “”I have only returned from maternity this week and I have been very disappointed by the abuse that I have received since I announced I was having a baby.”
Under the policy, any councillor who becomes a parent will be entitled to paid leave – normally up to six months for a mother, and at least two weeks for a father; where both parents are councillors, they can share the six months’ maternal leave.
Councillors who adopt children are also entitled to six months paid leave.
Coun Bisset said she hoped the policy would make the role of city councillor more appealing to younger age groups.
“Would-be councillors contemplating having or adopting children will have certainty about how they can meet their work and family commitments,” she said.
“I am delighted after I first raised the idea, the council now has a parental leave policy in place.
“I hope this will help to encourage more women and younger people to stand and get elected to the council and bring their perspectives to the debate,” she added.