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South Kesteven District Councillors push back plans to replace phrase 'chairman'



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

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

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

St Peters Hill, Grantham. Image via Google Streetview (55887990)
St Peters Hill, Grantham. Image via Google Streetview (55887990)

However, Labour and Independent members at the full council meeting yesterday (Monday) said the default title shouldn’t be male, and would promote equality.

Coun Ben Green (Con) 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."

Coun Ben Green (55127810)
Coun Ben Green (55127810)

Several female councillors who chair committees agreed.

Coun Helen Crawford (Con) said: "I don’t like presiding person.

"It sounds like I should be a judge with a handkerchief on my head."

Coun Helen Crawford (56358738)
Coun Helen Crawford (56358738)

Coun Sue Woolley (Con) added: "I don’t think the title demeans anyone.

"It adds gravitas, and there is nothing to be ashamed of about being a chairman."

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

Coun Sue Woolley (56366224)
Coun Sue Woolley (56366224)

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

Coun Louise Clack (Labour and Co-operative, non-aligned) said: "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.

Councillor Louise Clack (58058021)
Councillor Louise Clack (58058021)

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

Coun Ashley Baxter (AllianceSK) agreed and added: "All this woke talk is nonsense.

"It’s often used by people who are afraid of change, and used to stop progress towards equality.

Councillor Ashley Baxter. (54509689)
Councillor Ashley Baxter. (54509689)

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

The change to the constitution was voted down.



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