Labour Party, Women & Children, Women & Work, Women in Politics

Women mayors united in history – Ada Salter and Rosanne Kirk

Where do I begin ?

It has been a while since I have blogged and I thought to myself, time has no ending and no beginning in my usual philosophical  attitude to existence.

So here we go. I am back.

11 years as a district councillor and within that period four years as a county councillor.

What have I learned, well the battles are still there. I had a conversation recently where my frustrations arose and I retorted

“So I have to be brilliant to win” and my male opponents in a selection process “don’t”

and there you have it. In one conversation the whole standards of inequality rose its ugly head.

All my achievements over a decade within my political and community life felt at that particular moment, they didn’t count. That the age old battle of women have to be brilliant to succeed faced me full on. It might seem like self pity, and come on woman – just brush that attitude off and shake it off. Move along, move along.

Well,  let us  go back into history.

This my first chance on my own blog to open up about being a Mayor of a City as a woman. I was the Mayor of Lincoln from May 2022 to 2023. This is recent history, of course. I managed to light a beacon at  Lincoln castle, proclaim the King and be involved in civic life for a whole year. I even became the first civic mayor to have a Tik Tok account !! Wow. But remember, I have to be brilliant. As a woman, in political life, in civic life, oh yes I have to be brilliant. No second best for us. Can you feel the sarcasm, well that is what I am trying to convey.

Yes, I went to see Barbie and yes the speech made me cry in the cinema. It is so true and I will make no apologies for how I felt. The shocking part for me, is that speech was relevant in the past, present and I truly hope, it won’t be in the future. Yet the battles still exist and with recent coverage in the news, these battles are here. They face us, they look at us directly and not everyone will talk about them or tackle them head on.


Let’s go further back in history.

I feel a common bond with another woman mayor. Her name, Ada Salter. Have you heard of her ?

I have to admit, it was only this year, that I found out about this wonderful woman. Interestingly the place where her statue is, is a place I know well. Rotherhithe in London. I spent many times in Rotherhithe as a child, teenager and young adult. I would visit my aunty, Yvonne, who lived there,  another wonderful woman.


Let us talk about Ada.

Ada ( Brown ) Salter  was born on 20 July 1866.

Ada became one of the first women councillors in London, the first woman mayor in London and the first Labour woman mayor in the British Isles.

Ada had originally been in the Liberal Party, but due to their hesitation to agree to women having the vote, Ada became a member of the Independent Labour Party.

The independent Labour Party valued women’s rights and wanted women to stand as councillors and this is exactly what Ada did, she was elected as a councillor in November 1909, becoming the first woman councillor in Bermondsey, first Labour councillor in Bermondsey, and one of the first women councillors in London.

What I adore about Ada, and how we are similar, is our love at knowing how important the environment is. Ada was so advanced in her ideas, for the time. Ada wanted to tackle air pollution, introduce urban gardening and knew that creating a good, clean, green environment would improve the lives of some of the poorest people in London.

When Ada was re-elected in Bermondsey in 1919, Ada was appointed Mayor in 1922, making her the first woman mayor in London and first Labour woman mayor in Britain.

Ada had launched her housing campaign in 1920, demolishing the slums that could be and greening the slums that weren’t able to be demolished. By the 1930s she had planted 9000 trees, decorated buildings with window-boxes, and filled all open spaces with flowers, some 60,000 plants.

Ada’s  famous slogan was: “The cultivation of flowers and trees is a civic duty.”

Ada always campaigned for a Green belt around London and he Green Belt was secured by law in 1938.

Ada died in 1942, the year my parents were born and her achievements still have impacts today.

While I was Mayor of Lincoln, I decided that I wanted to visit Ada’s statute and the two mayor’s were together, across time. I think Ada would have hoped that by the 21st century, that women were still not facing those battles and having to prove they were brilliant to succeed. Sometimes dear Ada, we still encounter these battles, and I am so proud of what you achieved and I would hope that you would think the same of what I have tried to do, over the last decade.

We go forward, your legacy and my determination to battle through.


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