A NEW policy on leave for parents in politics will get rubber-stamped this week.

At the moment elected councillors have no legal right to take time off for a birth or adoption. In fact, they legally have to attend at least one meeting every six months.

But locally, that is about to change after a motion passed by Lynne Doherty, the leader of West Berkshire Council, to remove some of those barriers and make politics more inclusive.

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While the motion was passed in September last year, it is due to be rubber-stamped on Friday, April 24, at a meeting of the personnel committee.

In a report to the meeting, human resources manager Abigail Witting said the new policy would “increase the diversity of elected members and make public office more accessible”. She added it would help create greater diversity of experience, age and background of councillors.

Under the new rules, councillors will be able to take up to 12 months leave from their work.

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When introducing the motion, Cllr Doherty said: “Local government is the cornerstone of our democracy, delivering services that people rely on and serving our communities.

“There is, at present, no right to parental leave for those in elected public office, but we should do all we can to encourage as wide as possible a range of candidates to stand for election.”

Across England about 35per cent of elected councillors are women, according to the Fawcett Society. In West Berkshire, only 14per cent of councillors are women.