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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Councils need more women - Blears
Hazel Blears
Ms Blears was a city councillor in Salford before becoming an MP
The lack of women councillors across Britain is a "disgrace", Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has said.

In her speech to the Labour conference, Ms Blears said only 30% of councillors were women "and that must change".

Ms Blears, a former city councillor, said a Councillors' Commission report due out later this autumn would debate new ways to get people to stand.

She also said more powers would be given to councillors to become "true champions of their neighbourhoods".

This included more say over budgets and control of community assets from disused schools to street markets.

Only three out of ten councillors are women
Hazel Blears

She told delegates the government wanted to attract a whole range of people to stand as councillors, including young people, and more black and Asian people.

And she added: "One hundred years after women won the vote, only three out of ten councillors are women, and that must change."

Later Equalities Secretary Harriet Harman told the conference that there was a "shameful under-representation" of black and Asian women on local councils across Britain - of which there are just 178.

Ms Harman said, to be representative there should be nearly 1,000.


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