Union slams Central Beds for lack of diversity

A UNION has slammed Central Bedfordshire Council for not reflecting the people they represent and claim this is the reason “councillors keep getting it wrong”.

The GMB union compared the census and the authority’s Register of Members’ Interests, a document listing information on elected members, and claim that its 66 councillors are untypical of the people they serve.

“Now we know why Central Bedfordshire councillors keep getting it so wrong,” said GMB senior organiser Warren Kenny.

“They don’t reflect the people they represent. This being the case how can they possibly understand the values and priorities of residents whose lives are different in so many ways.”

GMB data shows that despite the majority of Central Bed’s residents being aged between 35-49 only 13 per cent of councillors fall within that age bracket.

And only 18.9 per cent of residents are over 65 and over whereas 49 per cent of its representatives fall in that range.

The union also claim that councillors don’t reflect the regions ethnic make up and professional background.

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Cllr Tricia Turner, leader of the authority, disputes the findings and says the union are “confusing issues”.

She said: “We do want to attract more young people into local government and are trying to increase the diversity in the make up of our council.

“That is why we’re actively involved in a regional “Be a Councillor” campaign and we’re promoting opportunities to stand as councillors as part of our democratic awareness campaign with young people and the wider community.

“But - we don’t accept that an ambition to be more diverse means that we don’t represent the views of the people who elect us.

“We work hard at our community engagement, through face to face community meetings, consultations and effective communication.

“We listen and we respond.

“That is why we have changed our position on some of our budget proposals, including that to scrap our crossing patrols where we took on board the feedback and concerns of the public and agreed to continue funding.”

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