This is my first blog since last week's local elections and thought I would say something about the composition of the Council. Not the political composition, although that, with the election of a Liberal Democrat councillor, has changed. It is nowhere near the most significant change.
For the first time a majority of the members of Manchester City Council, 49 out of 96, are women. I suspect though I've not checked that this also means we have more women councillors than any other local authority in the country. This hasn't happened by accident, certainly hasn't happened overnight, and is something I'm immensely proud of. Neither is it some sort of academic exercise. I and my colleagues want a Council that is broadly representative of the population of the city as a whole because I believe that will make us better able to understand and represent the city. Gender equality is absolutely fundamental to that.
Of course gender balance alone does not give us the diversity we need. Over the last six years on average the Council has got younger. This is the opposite of what is happening in most other places but of course the city itself has been getting younger as well.That has brought its own challenges with a number of members struggling to combine full-time work with young families and Council duties but it is important those voices are heard in the Town Hall. This year we had our first Somalian origin Councillor elected, our first African origin Councillor for a while. Even so though it would be impossible to have all the rich ethnic diversity of Manchester represented on the Council and although we don't do badly in this respect,t we could do better.
However for the time being I do think to have achieved gender equality on the Council is something to be celebrated - and something to be maintained.