Following North West Leicestershire Labour Party’s women’s day of action on Tuesday 16th September Councillor Richard Blunt refused to heed Labour’s calls and apologise for disrespectful comments made about women by Tory Councillor Stevenson.
At July’s District Council meeting Tory Councillor Stevenson made disrespectful comments about women during a debate on garage sizes. He said: “Women often choose a house and men often pay for it!” (North West Leicestershire District Council meeting, 1st July 2014, draft Council minutes).
Labour called on Richard Blunt, as Leader of the Tory Group, to apologise for Stevenson’s remarks. Stevenson is due to apologise at November’s Council meeting but Labour believed this meeting should not pass without an apology. North West Leicestershire Labour hit the streets of Ashby and Coalville to raise awareness about the issue and also the record of the Tories and Lib Dems in Government. Cllr Blunt refused to apologise for the comments of one of his members.
While in Government the Tories & Lib Dems have also hit women hardest. Of the £14bn extra George Osborne is raising in direct tax, credit, benefit, pay and pension changes 79% is paid by women. Women’s underemployment is up 74% since 2010, while underemployment for all is up 11% in the East Midlands since 2010.
Heather Worman, Labour County Councillor and Chair of North West Leicestershire Labour Party said:
“An apology from the Group Leader is the least women deserve following these disrespectful comments. In 2014 this attitude towards women is unacceptable. We were shocked to hear what Councillor Stevenson said. The legacy in Government of the Tories and Lib Dems is also shameful. We’ve proved only Labour will stand up for women locally and in Government.”
Sue McKendrick, North West Leicestershire Labour women’s officer, said:
“Our members were angry to hear what Tory Councillors had said at a Council meeting. They wanted to raise this issue and talk about the Tories & Lib Dems’ record in Government. That’s why we hit the streets to raise awareness. To find out that Cllr Blunt will not accept responsibility for comments by a member of his group will further anger members who could have reasonably expected acknowledgement by Cllr Blunt that such comments by any member of his group are not acceptable.”