An overhaul of working practices at County Hall is needed to drag Northumberland ‘out of the dark ages’, according to opposition leaders.
According to Labour, reforms are needed to ensure county councillors better represent the region’s demographics, including women and young people.
And to make a start on this they plan to formally call on bosses to begin drafting a package of parental leave policies to support elected representatives.
“The role of councillor should be open to all, regardless of their background,” said Scott Dickinson, leader of the county council’s opposition Labour group.
“A parental leave policy is a step towards encouraging a wider range of working age people to become councillors.
“It is also a step towards encouraging existing councillors who may want to start a family or those who find themselves with caring responsibilities to remain as councillors.
“In reality, it is difficult to understand why the council has not brought this in before now.
“Bringing equity and equality into councillors’ terms and conditions should have already happened – we need to bring the council out of the Dark Ages.”
Cllr Dickinson expects to put the proposals forward as a motion for all county councillors to vote on when they meet next week (Wednesday, July 7).
Several local authorities in the North East have already approved parental leave policies for their councillors.
Sunderland City Council agreed to adopt new terms for councillors in 2018, followed by Newcastle City Council in 2019.
Durham County Council followed suit earlier this year (January 2021), after its plans were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, with an offer of maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave.
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