July 25, 2022 6.30 pm

Proposals to scrap chairman title described as ‘woke nonsense’

Presiding person was one of the alternatives

By Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors have pushed back against plans to replace the phrase ‘chairman’ with a gender neutral option.

The vote would have changed South Kesteven’s constitution to refer to ‘presiding person’ instead.

Critics claimed the new proposal amounted to “policing language” and said that the current title gave authority.

However, Labour and Independent members at the full council said that the default title shouldn’t be male, and would promote equality. 

Councillor Ben Green was the harshest critic of the proposed change, saying: “We must stop this woke nonsense.

“We should spend half as long talking about the future as we do policing language.”

Several female councillors who chair committees agreed.

Councillor Helen Crawford, the said: “I don’t like ‘presiding person’. It sounds like I should be a judge with a handkerchief on my head.

Councillor Sue Woolley added: “I don’t think the title demeans anyone. It adds gravitas, and there is nothing to be ashamed about being a chairman.”

‘Wokeness’ is sometimes used to refer to over-the-top political correctness.

But others said that the title automatically favoured men, and accusations of wokeness were used to stop progress.

Councillor Louise Clack – “The default shouldn’t be chairman. I’m a mother and a daughter of a confident woman, and come from a long line of strong women.

“The default setting should be universal, not set by men.”

Councillor Ashley Baxter agreed, saying: “All this ‘woke nonsense’ talk is nonsense. It’s often used by people who are afraid of change, and used to stop progress towards equality. 

“People would have described the Sex and Race Discrimination Acts the same way, if that words had been around in the 1970s.”

The change to the constitution were voted down.