Only seven of Pembrokeshire’s 60 county councillors are women and that’s “appalling” and “shocking” a committee agreed, as it backs a ‘Diversity in Democracy’ report.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) Democracy in Democracy report and Pembrokeshire county council’s draft action plan had been sent to democratic services overview and scrutiny for further discussion by full council in July.

At a committee meeting on Monday (November 22) Clr. Joshua Beynon questioned why this was necessary as he said: “I didn’t feel there was anything in there that was too difficult for members to wrap their head around.”

Clr. Beynon added that having people in council with “different experiences and different lifestyle” improved decision making, adding “one shocking lack of diversity is the number of women on our council, seven out of 60 is absolutely unbelievable.”

The WLGA report highlights the long-term problem of a lack of diverse representation and recognises “elected representatives who are more reflective and understanding of their communities leads to better engagement with individuals and communities.”

Barriers include time commitment, political culture, childcare and other caring responsibilities, public criticism and online abuse, remuneration and impact on employment and lack of diverse role models and incumbency.

The committee also backed increased salaries for councillors, as recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales, as a way of encouraging and allowing people to stand for election.

“This is obviously going to encourage people to stand, it is a wage that is liveable as opposed to before it wasn’t,” said Cllr Paul Rapi, who added the low number of female councillors was “appalling.”

Committee chairman Clr. Di Clements raised concerns about the “big jump” requiring financing by the council of £157,549.

The basic salary would rise from £14,368 to £16,800, the leader salary would increase to £56,700, deputy leader £39,690, and cabinet member £34,020, as well as increases to chairman roles.

The committee recommends to full council that it commit to promote becoming a more diverse council at the May 2022 elections, with an action plan to be prepared before that, and provide a clear, public commitment to improving diversity.