A LEADING women’s rights group has said a council is one of the worst in the country for female representation.

The Fawcett Society found East Sussex County Council is the fourth worst council in England for women’s representation.

Only eight of the 50 county councillors are women, which is less than 20 per cent.

But two of the council’s Conservative-run executive are women, despite only three female Tories sitting on the council.

The society, which has campaigned for women’s rights for more than 150 years, has now called on councils to provide “comprehensive” childcare for mothers, a move Conservative county councillor Angharad Davies supports.

Cllr Davies, who chairs the county council’s scrutiny committee, said: “Childcare would be a huge help, maybe even putting a nursery in County Hall. That would help officers as well as councillors.

“It’s almost impossible to hold up a job and be a county councillor.

“It’s quite demanding in terms of time, especially for women if they’re working, looking after a child and running a home, they’re very, very busy.”

Cllr Davies, who represents Northern Rother, said despite councillor salaries remaining unaffected by local cuts, it would require a massive pay rise for women to take on the job full-time.

She said: “The cuts from the Government are affecting residents rather than councillors, our incomes haven’t been affected.

“But to make being a councillor a full-time job you would probably need to pay around £25,000 a year and there’s no way a council could afford that.”

But Independent Group leader Ruth O’Keeffe said being a county councillor was fundamentally unattractive for many women, higher salary or not.

She said: “Being on the county council especially, most of my friends say my job is just constantly arguing against cuts unsuccessfully, which they don’t want to be part of.

“I don’t think anybody has been deliberately preventing women from becoming councillors.

“When I first started I would sometimes walk into a meeting and get asked if I was someone’s secretary, but that doesn’t happen anymore.”

However, Cllr O’Keeffe said it would take all-female election shortlists for more women to be elected to the council.

“A lot of women are very keen but maybe haven’t been picked by their party. If I didn’t get into my seat it would’ve most likely been a man.”

Lib Dem Cllr Carolyn Lambert added she felt supported by male councillors.