Delay in ratifying new boundaries ‘may have harmful effect on diversity’ at council elections
A councillor has claimed the Minister’s delay in ratifying council ward changes may have a knock-on effect on the diversity of candidates standing in next year’s elections.
The Council Elections are due to be held in May of next year, and the Minister finished approving the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales’ recommendations in September.
But Catrin Elen Wager, who represents the Menai ward in Gwynedd, claimed that the Ministers’ delay in ratifying changes may have a knock-on effect on the diversity of councillors.
She said that older, male, richer candidates had more flexibility to stand while others couldn’t decide “at the drop of a hat” to do so.
Her city of Bangor is set to lose four councillors as a result of the Boundary Commission’s changes, a move Cllr. Wager and colleagues have criticised.
“The initial changes to Gwynedd’s boundaries, despite being proposed in mid-2018, were ratified just six months before the elections are due to be held in 2022,” she said.
“I’m concerned that the delay in formalising the changes may directly impact the diversity of the candidates that will stand in next year’s elections.
“Not giving people sufficient time to consider something that completely alters your day-to-day life is unfair.
“Let’s consider the situation we’re in. There are 54 per cent more male councillors than there are female councillors. The percentage of men in the 45-65 age range elected in the 2017 election increased by 18.18 per cent. Female councillors fell by almost five per cent, and there isn’t a single member of the council younger than 30.
“But very often, individuals that fit these demographic profiles are the ones that can’t afford to decide at the drop of a hat to stand for election.”
She said that as a mother with day-to-day parenting responsibilities, choosing to stand in 2017 wasn’t a decision she took lightly.
“A lot of young people face uncertain employment, high housing costs and may well have student loans to pay off,” she said. “Making a spontaneous decision to stand for election often just isn’t possible.
“There are challenges facing women, young people, and other marginalised communities, that simply don’t affect middle-aged men that might be retired, semi-retired, or financially well-off, for example.”
She urged any women who wanted to stand for Plaid Cymru to get in touch.
“I’m part of a team who are organising an event that specifically aims to encourage women to stand for election in Gwynedd next year,” she said.
“We need council candidates that reflect our society as a whole.”