‘Women can multitask’: council leader criticised for comment during meeting

A Norfolk council leader claimed a female councillor who used her mobile phone during a meeting was

A Norfolk council leader claimed a female councillor who used her mobile phone during a meeting was being inattentive before saying shes a woman and they can multitask. Pictured, Brian Long. Photo: IAN BURTA Norfolk council leader claimed a female councillor who used her mobile phone during a meeting was being inattentive before saying shes a woman and they can multitask. Pictured, Brian Long. Photo: IAN BURT - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk council leader claimed a female councillor who used her mobile phone during a meeting was being “inattentive” before saying “she’s a woman and they can multitask”.

Christine Hudson, Labour councillor for Gaywood Chase. Pic: Labour Party.

Christine Hudson, Labour councillor for Gaywood Chase. Pic: Labour Party. - Credit: Labour Party

West Norfolk council leader Brian Long made the remarks during a meeting of the full borough council, on Thursday, October 15.

Following a debate on a motion on the council’s climate change policy, Mr Long addressed Labour councillor Christine Hudson, who earlier in the meeting had asked for assurances that steps to address climate change would definitely be taken.

She said: “I feel if we’re going to support this we need to have something to reassure us that this is all going to take place.”

She added: “We need something to hold on to - even if we just put one date in there. At the moment it’s just a promise and a promise of a maybe.”

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But Mr Long said the council should not tie its environmental aspirations to a specific date.

“She’s on the phone,” he said.

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“It’s so important she’s on a phone call while we’re here trying to deal with important council business.

“I’m saying to her it is important and it will be adopted as council policy.”

And when the council came to take the vote, over whether or not to include a date on the council’s climate change policy, Mr Long added: “I witnessed Ms Hudson through my camera on the telephone.

“How can she be attentive to the meeting and - oh I know the answer, it’s because she’s a woman and they can multitask.

“Sorry, I’ll withdraw what I’m saying.”

READ MORE: ‘Gross dereliction of duty’ - council’s long-awaited climate policy criticised

Alun Ryves added: “Can I ask Mr Long to withdraw that last unpleasant remark?”

And mayor Geoff Hipperston said: “I think he has done.”

Ms Hudson did not respond to Mr Long during the meeting, but speaking afterwards she said she did not take offence at his remarks.

The Gaywood Chase ward councillor said: “I wouldn’t have answered the telephone apart from I saw the number and realised it was something I needed to answer.

“I was on the phone for two or three minutes - if that.”

She added: “Brian was just trying to be funny.”

Councillors voted not to include dates in its climate change policy, with 23 votes in favour, 30 votes against and two abstentions.

READ MORE: Councillor steps down from senior role saying: ‘I’m feeling my age’

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