A demonstration in Wokingham will be held after a bid to get the borough council to adopt a pledge to stamp out violence against women failed.

At a recent meeting, Councillor David Hare (Liberal Democrats, Hawkedon) introduced a motion urging Wokingham Borough Council to seek accreditation from the White Ribbon campaign, which tackles male violence against women and girls.

The motion also asked the council to promote the Our Streets Now campaign to make street harassment of women a crime.

However, the motion was adapted by a Conservative amendment to refer it to the council’s equalities working group, which passed by 25 votes to 18.

READ MORE: Wokingham Conservatives accused of watering down pledge to end violence against women and girls

Now, a demonstration is due to take place on Thursday, November 25 – on White Ribbon Day – to reverse the amendment and adopt the motion in full.

The demonstration will be held outside the council offices in Shute End from 6pm to 7pm.

Although the event is open to all and has been billed as non partisan, activists from the Liberal Democrats, the Women’s Equality Party and the Labour Party are due to attend.

Louise Timlin, a member of the Women’s Equality Party from Wokingham, has urged for the motion to be implemented.

She said:  “Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is endemic in our society.

“Women are not safe on the streets or in their own homes.

“The response to high profile cases, such as the death of Sarah Everard at the hands of a serving Met Police Officer, is to yet again, call for women to be the solution to this pandemic of male violence.

“Women are asked to be careful where they walk, be more ‘street wise’.

“The question asked of domestic violence victims is ‘why didn’t you leave?’, we don’t ask ‘why doesn’t he stop?’.

“White Ribbon UK was founded in 2005 and is part of a global movement to end male violence against women.”

READ MORE: Outrage across Wokingham as Conservatives 'fail' to endorse White Ribbon campaign

Louise continued: “It is a charity that works with men and boys to make a stand against violence, by encouraging them to individually and collectively take action and change behaviour.

“Sadly the Wokingham Conservative councillors’ statement said the proposal ‘needlessly duplicated existing work’.

“Many local residents are struggling to understand why the council would not support this motion and take a public stand against male violence.

“Many other councils including Basingstoke are moving ahead to seek White Ribbon Accreditation.

“We would be happy to work with the council to discuss this and other measures that can be taken to end male violence and to ensure women’s safety on the streets and at home.”

The Wokingham Labour Party have launched a petition urging the council administration to reverse its decision and adopt the motion, which can be signed here.

Conservative response 

The Conservatives have argued that motion proposed actions that have already been implemented or are planned.

Cllr Laura Blumenthal (Conservative, South Lake), the executive member for equalities, said that the council’s Equalities Strategy already covers plans for improved council training for staff and councillors to help people experiencing harassment, abuse and discrimination – with the new training programme being scrutinised by the council’s cross-party equalities working group in January.

The council will also launch a new Domestic Violence Strategy in the new year, and employ a dedicated member of staff who will specialise in domestic abuse.

Executive committee meeting

The demonstration will take place ahead of a meeting of the council’s executive committee which starts at 7pm.

The executive is made up entirely of Conservatives.

In an email to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Cllr Sarah Kerr (Liberal Democrats, Evendons), who is involved in the event in a ‘non political capacity’ said demonstrators aim to raise awareness about the White Ribbon campaign and encourage individual executive members to take the pledge.

At the executive meeting,  members are due to approve a project to install electric vehicle charging points at council owned car parks, set rents for some 2,570 council houses, join the Integrated Children’s Therapy Service alongside Reading and West Berkshire councils, and make changes to its plans for Farley Hill Primary School.