One of Brighton’s few openly gay councillors has announced he will stand down at the next elections in 2007.
Simon Williams, a Green Party member, represented Brighton’s central St Peters and North Laine area since 2003, but has become fed up with “so many meetings.”
The 34 year old, who is pursuing a legal career and currently works in public relations, said: “Although councillors receive a small basic allowance, it’s simply not enough to cover the cost of living in this city and it’s a fact that some councillors have to work alongside their council responsibilities.
“Because so many meetings are in the working day rather than evenings, it’s difficult for people who have full time day jobs, especially where their employer may not be able to be flexible. This is frequently the case in the private sector.
“The end result is that many people who would like to stand for election and serve their local community are prevented from doing so. The risk is that those who are left do not reflect the wider community, leaving only the wealthy, self or part time employed and retired.
“There are only two or three openly gay councillors on the council, as far as I’m aware, out of 54, in a city where the LGBT community is a much higher proportion of the population. The average age of the city’s population is 38 while the average age of councillors is 57.
“Brighton and Hove’s elected representatives simply do not reflect the wider community they are supposed to serve.”
Mr Williams has been a strong campaigner for gay issues in Brighton and Hove including health, equalities, the impact of civil partnerships, community safety, policing and the criminal justice system.