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Plans for Lichfield District Council to stop using gender-specific titles for female councillors

A tradition of referring to female councillors differently to their male counterparts is set to be ditched at Lichfield District Council.

Lichfield District Council House
Lichfield District Council House

A motion on the subject will be debated at the first meeting of the council since the local elections.

Angela Lax

The proposal, by Cllr Angela Lax, would see an end to the practice of referring to councillors as Miss, Mrs or Ms in all communications.

The Conservative councillor’s motion points out that male counterparts in the chamber are not addressed with any gender specific title.

“This motion proposes that this council addresses, in all its written, digital and verbal communications, all of its members in a consistent, respectful and equal manner which does not differentiate between their gender or their marital status,” Cllr Lax says in her proposal.

“It has been custom and practice for the council to add the honorific title to female councillors, but not to do so for male councillors.

“It is recognised that this was only ever intended to be polite and respectful, but it is felt that addressing all members in the same consistent manner better reflects our ambitions to be truly inclusive and empowering.

“Of course, to differentiate between Councillors with the same surname, we can use their given name rather than their title.”

The motion will be voted on at the meeting of the council tonight (21st May).

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2 Comments

  1. Steve Norman

    22nd May, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Following my suggestion last week Councillor Lax amended her very welcome Motion to say “commonly used name” instead of the American term “given name” and last night the Motion was Seconded by Labour’s Deputy Leader, Councillor DI (real firstname Christine) Evans at the invitation of Councillor Lax and was supported by all members.

    It is hoped that Staffordshire County Council will follow Burntwood Town Council and now Lichfield District Council in getting rid of this outdated term of address which discriminates against women members. After all, there were three members voting for this who are also County Councillors: Councillors White, Eagland and Greatorex with County Councillor Martin Titley in the public gallery.

    However, I am not optimistic as the Leader of the County Council, Councillor Mr Phillip Atkins, doesn’t think his councillors should even be referred to as Councillors at meetings even though they take part in County Council elections and are elected to a council! Whilst I have always looked down at Members of Parliament I’ve never looked down on fellow Councillors just because they are only Parish, Borough or District Councillors which is the reason for Staffordshire’s use of Mrs, Ms, Miss – or Mr in the Chamber and building festooned with pictures of male predecessors. Welcome to the 20th Century.

  2. Philip Allso

    24th May, 2019 at 8:50 am

    If ‘mayor’ is the masculine and ‘mayoress’ the feminine what will be the neutral form of address? Language is an evolutionary form of communication but you should not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Gender identification should not be seen as a detrimental aspect. Women have been underrated for generations for their contribution to society. Isn’t it right that we are now able to recognise them in an enlightened age rather than cloak their identities in a none descriptive way? Furthermore, what message does this give to the younger generation who are already having to contend with many aspects of gender identification?

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