9th Aug, 2020

Campaigners call on 'Lord of the Manor' for debate on women roles in Alcester Court Leet

Ross Crawford 12th Mar, 2020

CAMPAIGNERS calling for women to get the vote and stand for office at Alcester Court Leet have taken their case to its ‘Lord of the Manor’ – the Marquess of Hertford.

In an open letter to the marquess and High Bailiff of Alcester Court Paul Stephens, they have asked for an open debate in the town on having women on the Court Leet.

In the letter the group, called Equa-Leety 4 Alcester, say: “As a group of over 290 supporters, that love Alcester’s community and traditions, we would like again to take the opportunity to state our full support of the great work that Alcester Court Leet do, the volunteers that give up their time and effort they put in.

“We want to enhance that and help it to meet the challenges of the 21st century whilst maintaining links to the past – Bromsgrove, Henley and Warwick Court Leet are thriving through their diversity and inclusivity.

“Every other Court Leet in the country – apart from one other – has found a way to involve men and women equally.

“Alcester Court Leet has modified its tradition from being an institution of white church going men to allowing men of any ethnicity, faith and sexual orientation / identification. There should be no reason for continuing to discriminate in 2020.”

The group argues that, unlike single sex organisations like the Women’s Institute, the Court Leet has been able to carry out its activities through an Act of Parliament – the Administration of Justice Act 1977, which specifically names the Court Leet.

Kathrin Foster from the group said the campaign, which started in October 2019 at annual election of Court Leet officers, had brought an overwhelming response from Alcester residents, with more than 300 men and women coming up with a host of ideas on how the group could raise awareness, although everyone agreed there should be no disruption of Court Leet charitable events.

Their letter ends: “We would like to organise jointly with you an open debate and invite you, the Marquess of Hertford, the Steward of the Manor as well as Court Leet officers to debate the reasoning for actively continuing discrimination in Alcester publicly as well as have the opportunity to discuss Equ-Leety 4 Alcester’s concerns for the mutual benefit of Alcester people.”

The group has asked for a response by March 23.

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