Photo by Amy Elting on Unsplash

Across the UK, local government suffers from a huge lack of representation. According to the Local Government Association, the gender gap still prevails – with only 34% of all councillors identifying as a woman. There persists a severe lack of ethnic diversity and many barriers still exist for people with disabilities to seek election. And with the average age of a councillor being 59, young people are still struggling to have their voices heard.

With just under a month to go till the local elections and over 1,000 Co-operative Party candidates, one of our aims as a Party is to ensure our candidates are more diverse than ever before, and able to represent the wealth of experiences held within our Party.

That’s why this year, we’re proud to be standing our most diverse cohort of local government candidates to date – with nearly half of all Co-op candidates identifying as a woman, nearly a third identifying as BAME, nearly a quarter having a disability and over 15% identifying as LGBTQ+. And with over one in ten co-operative candidates under the age of 30, we’re leading the way in terms of breaking down barriers for young people.

From supporting diverse candidates to stand and providing training and mentoring schemes, to ensuring our events are fully accessible and campaigning on equalities issues, at the Co-operative Party we are ambitious on equalities, as we know that we can only create a fairer economy if we empower and amplify everyone’s voices.

Our historic values and principles as a movement, from equality to voluntary and open membership, means a willingness to accept all persons without discrimination is hardwired into how all co-operatives operate. As a Party, we’re committed to building a fairer future where everyone has a voice and stake in their communities.

Despite these achievements and efforts, we still have a long way to go. We must have candidates and councillors who reflect the community they represent in town halls across the country. While we’ve seen increases in representation in national politics, all too often that progress isn’t reflected on a local level. We need to ensure that every person has an equal opportunity at every level of Government. There are still many fights to be won.