West Norfolk and women discriminated against by county council, says Independent
Senior councillors have been accused of sexism and discrimination against West Norfolk after introducing changes which mean the only female group leader at County Hall must always wait until the end of meetings to raise items for discussion.
Under proposed changes to Norfolk County Council’s constitution, Alexandra Kemp – a west Norfolk councillor and leader of the authority’s independent group – will see her motions put at the end of all council agendas.
It means the meetings will often conclude before her items have even been discussed.
Ms Kemp – who is currently the only member of her group – said the proposed changes were sexist, because it meant all the male leaders would have an opportunity to propose motions before her.
She told a council meeting on Monday that the council was “putting women last”.
The councillor for Clenchwarton and Lynn South also said the changes indicated a bias against West Norfolk, because her group represented the interests of those in that area.
However, council leaders insisted the proposals were to give priority according to how many members each party had.
It means motions raised by the ruling Conservatives will be heard first, followed by those from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, then the Independent aligned group, then independent non-aligned – Ms Kemp.
She told the meeting: “The proposal of having the Conservative motions first and the smallest groups last would actually discriminate against the only all-women grouping – which would be sex discrimination.
“And would the leader like to explain to the women of King’s Lynn South and Clenchwarton why it is the Conservative have a policy of putting women last, back of the queue every time?”
Andrew Proctor, the leader of the Conservative administration, insisted it was not a question for the cabinet and the proposed changes were part of a review of the constitution being carried out by the director of governance, Helen Edwards.
Mr Proctor said: “There is no attempt, in any way, of going toward discrimination.”
Currently, motions are listed on the agenda in the order they are submitted.
This is not the first time accusation that people in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk are treated differently to the rest of the county.
In January, Chris Morley, a member of West Norfolk Council, said the people of West Norfolk are treated as “second-class citizens”.