Young and diverse residents are needed to become councillors in Lincoln, as the city’s longstanding Labour leader said he’s looking for “fresh blood”.
As a vote draws near for the next Conservative leader and PM, many are looking at who successors for various authorities, including any contenders to Labour leader Kier Starmer’s role.
Asked whether he had adopted an heir, Councillor Ric Metcalfe, who leads the City of Lincoln Council, said he had “no plans at the present time” to retire from his position, after 40 years in local politics.
However, asked if there was any young Labour talent to keep an eye on, he said his party had been looking for years to get new people into local politics.
“We’ve had a modest amount of success with one or two new younger people who have become councillors and very welcome that is too,” he said.
“I’ve always been very keen on succession planning, to make sure we have fresh blood coming in and try to get the average age of members down.”
He pointed to national surveys such as those carried out by the Local Government Association, which show a bias towards male, middle class, white councillors with an average age of early-to-mid 60s.
The LGA’s 2022 survey of 5,055 councillors found that in district councils across the UK 94% were white.
There was a 60%/40% split between male and female councillors.
The average age for those councillors was 61.3, but a third of councillors were over 70.
Around 92% declared themselves as heterosexual or straight, with 3% being gay or lesbian, 2% bisexual and 2% other sexual orientation.
Around 16% of councillors said they had a long-term health problem.
A cursory glance at the City of Lincoln Council’s councillors website shows that around half of councillors would appear to fit into the white, middle aged, male category.
Out of the 33 councillors, 14 are female. In Lincoln’s Labour group 12 out of the 22 members are female. One of the nine Conservatives is female.
The Liberal Democrats, with two councillors are 50/50.
“In terms of making our council, and certainly our majority group, more representative of the populations we serve has become more pressing as the years have gone on,” added Councillor Metcalfe.
“I’ve always led the charge on thinking to the future and getting more young people, more people from black and minority ethnic groups, or disabled, so we as a council are seen to be more representative.”