Joy for campaigners as Alcester Court Leet abandons male only rule - The Redditch Standard

Joy for campaigners as Alcester Court Leet abandons male only rule

Redditch Editorial 8th Nov, 2021   0

THE campaign to allow women to stand or vote for Alcester Court Leet officers has ended in victory.

The male only institution – whose ceremonial tradition is derived from the historic civil courts of England – plays a key role in the civic life of the market town.

Traditionally, elections were for positions like ale tasters, bread weighers and constable. Today, the court has a hand in activities including organising the annual Mop Fair, supporting the town council, and appointing the town crier as well as officers holding trustee roles for several local charities.

It is thought be the only one among some 30 across the country – including neighbouring Warwick and Henley Court Leets – which does not allow women among its ranks.

However, following a review of its policies, Lord of the Manor of Alcester Court Leet, the Marquess of Hertford, announced the court would ‘elect jurors to the court irrespective of gender’.

The decision – too late for this year’s elections – follows a petition of more than 1,000 signatures and a campaign stretching over more than two years by the group ‘Equa-Leety 4 Alcester’.

Made up of both women and men, they have long argued that civic duties, represented by the court, should be open to everyone, irresperctive of gender.

An announcement made by the Court Leet reads: “[Lord Hertford] has now completed that review and decided the functions of the Court Leet in serving the community of Alcester will best be promoted by electing Jurors to the Court irrespective of gender and thereby eligible for election as officers.

“Lord Hertford welcomes this change and hopes his court will continue to serve Alcester as it has done over past centuries.”

The change is set to come into force next October.

On a spokesperson for Equa-Leety 4 Alcester said: “We’re absolutely thrilled and grateful to everyone involved in this decision.

“It’s in keeping with the spirit of the town, which has shown such strength of character, generosity and inclusivity in recent times.

“We’re proud of what our Court Leet does for our town and this latest change will allow for important female representation.

“It will also help the sustainability of the court for many years to come by significantly increasing the number of people eligible to be officers and allowing opportunities for the children of Alcester to learn more about the inclusive court and support its work.”

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