A radical shake up of Dundee City Council to make it more inclusive for women and minorities has been pledged.
Council leader John Alexander said his SNP administration wants to create a legacy of equality and will bring forward a raft of changes to remove barriers to people standing for office, in a bid to make the council “look more like the city”.
It comes after a number of female MSPs have said they will not seek re-election next year, citing challenges bringing up a young family.
Just 24% of Dundee city councillors are female and Mr Alexander acknowledged groups including ethnic minorities and the LGBTQI community are also under-represented.
He said: “There is much more work to do to make elected office attractive to the general population.
“If there’s one legacy that current councillors can leave, it’s removing long-standing barriers and introducing ways to achieve greater diversity and equality.
“We should never rely on the adage that ‘this is the way it’s always been’ and we need to ask ourselves why only 24% of the council is female, for example.
“We need to encourage people from all walks of life to stand and represent their communities.
“In particular, we lack diversity amongst some key groups including women, those with disabilities, people with young families, LGBTQI and the BAME community.”
The administration plans to bring forward a range of recommendations next year, including more support for maternity and paternity leave and creating a specific menopause-related policy.
Council committees are being held virtually due to the pandemic but Mr Alexander wants to consider making online attendance a permanent option, to make it easier for people with disabilities or illnesses.
Mr Alexander added: “This isn’t about the councillors currently elected, it’s about those that may stand in the future and to ensure that perceived barriers are knocked down.
“As an example, I was the first council leader in Dundee’s history to take paternity leave in 2017. It should not be noteworthy or the exception.
“While I wasn’t part of the council at the time, I’m also aware of councillors who have experienced illness or disability who wished to participate in decisions but were prevented from doing so because they were only able to contribute in person. It’s the 21st Century and we need to practice what we preach.
“We want a council that looks like the city, that shares the same experiences as Dundonians and we want our future councillors to be able to do their job free from barriers.
“I want people across Dundee to feel free to and be able to put themselves forward for elected office and challenge, support and campaign.”
It comes after North East Labour MSP Jenny Marra announced she will not be standing at next year’s Scottish Parliament elections, after almost a decade in the seat.
Having recently given birth to her second son, Ms Marra said she wanted to spend more time with her young family, but did not rule out a return to politics in the future.
Earlier this year two SNP MSPs, Aileen Campbell and Gail Ross, announced they were stepping down due to challenges carrying out the role while bringing up children.