Local Government and Housing Committee scrutinises progress on increasing diversity of candidates and elected councillors in Wales

ON Friday (Jul 13), Members of the Senedd held a Local Government and Housing Committee which covered the following subjects:

. Diversity in Local Government, including additional information from the WLGA (Welsh Local Government Association) PUBLIC

. The provision of sites for Gypsy, Roma and Travellers

. Welsh Government Draft Budget 2023-24, including Draft Budget Timetable 2024-25

. Legislative Consent: Renters (Reform) Bill

. Non-Domestic Rating Bill LCM

. Consideration of forward work programme for Autumn term

. Private Rented Sector – approach to engagement

. Diversity in Local Government – Consideration of evidence and key issues

John Griffiths MS led the committee meeting and expressed a warm welcome to the committee members, in particular Luke Fletcher MS, a new member to the LG&H Committee.

Griffiths also expressed thanks to Mabon ap Gwynfor MS for his contributions to the committee over the past two years. Mabon ap Gwynfor is due to step down in order to allow Luke Fletcher to take his place on the committee in a new arrangement.

John Griffiths said:

“We would very much like to thank Mabon because his commitment and his contribution were very marked on this committee, and I would like to recognise that. So diolch yn fawr i Mabon.”

The first order of business was to discuss the subject of diversity in Local Government, as well as evidence from the Minster of Finance and Local Government.

Joining the Minister of Finance on the panel: Deputy Director for Local Government Policy Lisa James and Eleina Chamberlain who works in the same division.

John Griffiths MS began by asking the Minster of Finance Rebecca Evans if she believed there had been enough progress to increase the diversity of candidates and elected councillors in Wales. John Griffiths additionally asked for an update on the Government’s Diversity in Democracy programme.

Rebecca Evans responded by saying that there has been a lot of progress in recent years:

“Particularly since the Diversity in Democracy programme came into place, and of course we made some significant changes through the Local Government and Elections Wales Act 2021.

“So some examples where we’ve been improving diversity in democracy include extending voting rights to 16-17 year-olds in Senedd and Local Government elections. And also providing local authorities with flexibility to hold their meetings in hybrid or virtual formats.”

The committee heard from Lisa James, Rebecca Evans and Eleina Chamberlain on a number of projects and training plans that were put in place to engage with local government, encourage diversity and to support members struggling with adversity in the form of workplace bullying. Lisa James noted these projects as key to encouraging councillors to stay in local government and to protect them against abusive behaviour.

You can watch the full committee meeting here:

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