News

19.04.17

Combined authorities risk being ‘old boys’ club’ as 93% of leaders are white men

A huge majority of 93% of top positions in all six of the newly-formed combined authorities will be held by white men, prompting claims that English devolution is at risk of becoming a “play thing of the old boys’ club”, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has today warned.

In its report, ‘From City Hall to Citizens’ Hall: Democracy, Diversity and English Devolution’, the organisation found that only two cabinet members of the six authorities will be women, and only one is from a BME background.

The ERS predicted that only one female mayor was likely to win, most probably in Tees Valley, out of seven women running from a total of 39 candidates across all six regions.

Even in the most gender diverse cabinet, only one of five authority leaders is a woman, and in four cabinets there are no women at all.

The organisation also raised concern about many combined authorities being dominated by one party, thus leading to huge risks against proper scrutiny as members of cabinet and scrutiny committees would be plucked from the mayors’ party.

This has led the ERS to call on candidates to back reform and base scrutiny committees on vote share rather than seat share, adopting a proportional representation system via the Single Transferable Vote for local elections.

Katie Ghose, its chief executive, said that the findings showed that parties had “dropped their guard” when it comes to diversity and democracy in the new combined authorities.

“With 93% of the most powerful posts being controlled by men, these institutions risk magnifying the problems of representation that already exist in local government,” she argued. “And many of the new institutions will effectively be ‘one-party states’, with mayors held to account by their own party colleagues. 
 
“It’s concerning to see the most powerful positions in these new authorities being dominated by the ‘usual suspects’. These new bodies can’t be allowed to be the preserve of the old boys’ club – with the and cabinet members often being the same as those who previously had power, only with less accountability.”
 
Ghose also issued a stark warning that without a new governance model and consultation with local residents, voters could see a “stitch-up”, which is effectively a “recipe for disaster”.
 
“It’s time to inject some democracy and diversity into English devolution,” she added. “With the public largely shut out of the process, and models imposed rather than chosen, so far citizen involvement in the constitutional future of their own areas has been minimal. That must change.”
 
The new authorities provide fresh opportunities for leaders to open up their doors to reform, and this must be acted on to ensure the local government are not the preserve of a small elite, according to the CEO.

“We call on all candidates across the regions to back our seven recommendations for reform, and put real diversity and democracy into English devolution,” she concluded.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest news

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

14/11/2019Utilising data to best deliver meaningful public services

Public Sector Executive’s Matt Roberts explains how living in a modern, interconnected world, as we do, means public sector organisations cannot afford to ignore the rol... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

public sector events

events calendar

back

December 2019

forward
mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
25 26 27 28 29 30 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 1 2 3 4 5

featured articles

View all News