The offices of Lichfield District Council. Pic: Lichfield District Council
An expanded Cabinet at Lichfield District Council should have included more women, according to a local residents’ association. The controlling Conservative group added two new posts at the top table in the chamber at the first meeting of the local authority since the elections. The new additions saw Cllr Doug Pullen take on responsibiility for community, while Cllr Helen Fisher will look after tourism as the only woman on the eight person Cabinet.
Cllr Mike Wilcox
Cllr Mike Wilcox, leader of Lichfield District Council claimed the additions would enable a more diverse type of senior councillor to emerge. He said: “We have to recognise that many members of this authority have full time careers. “As a result we are creating two new cabinet positions to enable those in full-time paid employment to put themselves in a position to be considered for a senior role.” But Beacon Street Area Residents’ Association (BSARA) chairman Bob Smith said there could have been even more diversity. He highlighted the appointment of Cllr Fisher meaning that the Cabinet was now 12.5% female at a time when 38% of the councillors are women, representing a district where more than half of the population is female. “The Cabinet now has eight members which unfortunately only includes one lady,” he said. “This does not say a lot for equality. “It would have been prudent to see our elected members follow the lead shown by the directorate of the council regarding staff equality.” The increase in the size of the Cabinet follows a decision to reduce the overall number of councillors.
The offices of Lichfield District Council. Pic: Lichfield District Council
BSARA was a key supporter of the decision to reduce the size of the council from 56 to 47 seats. Mr Smith said he hoped the new-look council and Cabinet would better reflect the views of local people. “To some it may seem strange that Lichfield District Council has increased the size of the Cabinet at the same time as there has been a reduction in the number of elected councillors,” he said. “The council did originally reduce the number of cabinet members – some considered that a poor decision at the time, due to it putting more power into fewer hands and thus weakening democracy. “The Cabinet form of council management does control policy and with the Conservatives having such a massive overall majority, this can result in very little opposition being displayed on committees or at the full council. “The revised Cabinet has spread the job responsibilities of the members and we now have four representing Lichfield City wards. Let us hope that they will now reflect the views of the electorate, particularly relating to infrastructure requirements needed to cope with a minimum of 25% increase in the district population over the next 15 years.”


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