Town’s first lady is ready to meet challenge

PUBLISHED: 12:02 27 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:34 06 May 2010

Sharon Taylor – the first woman leader of Stevenage Borough Council

Sharon Taylor – the first woman leader of Stevenage Borough Council

I WILL do the job in the same way – the only difference is I ll be wearing high heels. That is the line Sharon Taylor uses when anyone asks her about being Stevenage s first woman council leader. Cllr Taylor is one of only 54 women leaders out of the 47

I WILL do the job in the same way - the only difference is I'll be wearing high heels."

That is the line Sharon Taylor uses when anyone asks her about being Stevenage's first woman council leader.

Cllr Taylor is one of only 54 women leaders out of the 470 councils in Great Britain.

"It is a shame and I hope we can encourage more women to think about being councillors. The only way we can do that is to make the role more flexible.

"I went to a girls' school and have three sisters so I have never felt I couldn't do something because I am a woman. My view is that I'll always have a go at something and see how I get on."

Sharon, 50, who lives in Fairview Road, took over from Brian Hall in May after he had been council leader for more than 30 years.

"I am very excited. It is a real challenge and I want to give it a good go."

She has lots of ideas - many of them will see the council become much more accessible. She plans to keep a web blog - a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries.

She is also encouraging the council to start using text messaging to keep residents informed about services, websites for all councillors and she wants to take the council "on the road".

She said: "I want to get some real debates going. We have already planned one for the autumn which will be about waste and recycling. We need to get people's views earlier, before we get to the stage of making reports.

"I want to listen to people in Stevenage and understand their priorities and make sure we are in tune with them.

"I am a typical Stevenage person - I grew up here, two of my three sisters still live here as does my dad."

She said the biggest challenges facing the town are housing shortages, planning issues and improving educational and economic development.

Sharon has two daughters, one aged 28 and one 16, and a son aged 26.

She had eight years out of work to have her children and then took part time PA jobs.

She said: "I have always had an interest in the Labour party and it was something I wanted to get involved with."

She got involved in election campaigns and in 1997 she stood as a councillor for Symonds Green ward and won by a huge majority.

She said: "I am leader of the Labour group and because we are the majority group I am also leader of the council.

"The position means I have responsibility for the political direction of the council, representing the council, making sure we stick to the manifesto we promised and to make sure we are moving in the right direction to complete the goals we have set."

As well as being council leader she works full time as a civil servant. But she is no stranger to juggling lots of roles - when she was 35 she decided to study for an English and history degree at Hertfordshire University while having a job and being pregnant with her youngest.

She said: "I am 10 years younger than the town. I grew up here and have grown with the town. Stevenage has given me so many opportunities so I am very fond of the place.

"I believe it is a place which is full of life and full of ideas. It is a place where anyone can achieve what they want to and we need to keep it that way.


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