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Local authorities ‘failing’ BAME communities with number of white, male and elderly councillors

Local councils are “failing” BAME communities with minorities underrepresented and allegations of racial discrimination, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism plaguing politicians ahead of the local elections, according to new research.

Local authorities have been criticised for a lack of BAME political representation at local government level, with a third of single-tier councils in England having only one or no BAME candidates – in areas where having BAME populations range from 6% to 12%.

“Ground-breaking” research from Operation Black Vote (OBV) found a significant gap in black, Asian and minority ethnic representation, particularly regarding African and Caribbean communities.

Separate BBC research found that the average councillor in England is a 59-year-old white male, probably called David or John, and it found a large disparity between the number of male and female candidates.

Looking specifically at the local elections taking place on 2 May, it found nearly 1,000 candidates named David or Dave in the 8,000 seats available whilst the highest ranked female name, Sue, only has 151 candidates.

There was also a persistent problem with local politician’s age, with the most recent LGA consensus showing that councillors’ average ages were often far higher than the average age in the community where they serve.

 Simon Woolley, the director of OBV, said the figures show that councils are failing to engage with BAME communities and encourage BAME councillors.

He said: “Some of the data makes very depressing reading. The findings appear to show that some local political leaders really don't care about representative democracy. Leaving communities without a representative voice is a recipe for community breakdown and discord.”

OBV said that with councils impacting our day to day lives, from bin collections and local education to housing and roads, “only a strong political voice alongside social action can bring change.”

It recommends that all political parties undertake a BAME democratic audit of staff, acknowledge the BAME democratic deficit and start an unprecedented BAME recruitment, retention and promotion drive.

Andrew Bazeley from the Fawcett Society campaign group commented: “The pace of change is still far too slow when it comes to getting more women on to councils across the country - and more diverse representation in terms of ethnicity, age, and disability too.”

Image credit - stocknshares


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