The north-east has a higher proportion of female councillors than anywhere else in the country, outstripping London by five percentage points, analysis of the LGA’s councillor census reveals.
Forty-one per cent of the region’s councillors are female, compared with 36% in the capital.
Yorkshire and Humberside came third with women making up 35% of councillors. The south-west was the least gender-balanced, with women making up just 29% of councillors.
However, the north-east is lagging behind on ethnic diversity, with 100% of the councillors from the area who responded to the LGA research being white.
Simon Henig (Lab), leader of Durham CC and chair of the Association of Labour Councillors, told LGC the region was taking steps to better reflect its population.
“Before Durham became a unitary council [in 2009] it had four women councillors out of 63,” he said. “Now 47% of our councillors are female. Three are in their twenties and one is 19 years old.
“I feel councils are becoming more representative but if we are to make them truly representative of society we need to look at the other factors that affect how easy it is to become a councillor.”
The north-east’s high proportion of women is the exception to a trend in the figures, which show London councillors are more representative of the population as a whole than those elsewhere in the country.
The capital has the youngest councillors in the country and the highest proportion of non-white members, with 16% from other ethnic groups. Thirty-five per cent of London’s councillors were over 65, compared with 45% for authorities elsewhere.
The LGA’s figures also showed councillors are working longer hours than they were in 2010.
The average working week, on council and political business, was estimated at 25.1 hours in the latest census, up from 22.7 hours in 2010.
Labour councillors emerged as the hardest-working, spending on average five hours more per week on council business than their Liberal Democrat counterparts.
Councillors in the north-east estimated they spent the most time on council business at an average of 25.3 hours per week, compared with 22.3 hours in London and 18.4 hours in the east of England.
The study also found
Conservative councillors were the least highly educated of the main parties. Just 55% of Conservative respondents had a degree, compared with 61% of Labour members and 70% of Liberal Democrats.
However, Conservative councillors were the most likely to hold a managerial or executive job, with 47% of Tories in this category compared with 33% of Labour councillors and 34% of Liberal Democrats.