Babies are 'firsts' in Blackpool politics as new mums celebrate arrivals

The councillors are the first to take town hall maternity leave
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History has been made at Blackpool Council with the delivery of babies born to two serving councillors for the first time.

The arrival of Cillian Webb on February 11 this year marked the first baby born to a sitting councillor in Blackpool, while Elijah Smith came into the world just over three weeks later on March 5.

Coun Portia Webb (left) with Cillian, and Coun Sarah Smith with ElijahCoun Portia Webb (left) with Cillian, and Coun Sarah Smith with Elijah
Coun Portia Webb (left) with Cillian, and Coun Sarah Smith with Elijah
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Both are first babies for mums Coun Portia Webb, who represents Tyldesley ward, and Coun Sarah Smith, who represents Marton. Both won their seats at the May 2023 local elections for Labour. They are now also the first councillors to take maternity leave from their council roles, meaning they officially have six months off from attending meetings, although their return will coincide with the summer recess.

Coun Webb, whose husband is Labour's Parliamentary candidate for Blackpool South Chris Webb, said: "We didn't know which baby would arrive first but in the end, Cillian was born early and Sarah's baby Elijah was late.

"When I was expecting him it was quite tiring juggling work and my council responsibilities but we both had a lot of support from council officers. Cillian was in the neo-natal ward at the hospital for a couple of days and all the midwives and staff at BVH (Blackpool Victoria Hospital) have been faultless."

Coun Smith, who shares Elijah with husband James, said she hoped the new arrivals would show other young women that bringing up a family could be combined with taking part in politics.

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She said: "I think it's important they have the maternity offer at Blackpool Council and across the country. We have seen the average age of Blackpool councillors has reduced significantly and we have achieved gender balance, and we can only maintain that by showing young women they can have children and be a councillor."

The babies could also find themselves introduced to the political scene at a young age as maternity policies do mean they are allowed to be brought to the town hall.

In the meantime, both Coun Webb and Coun Smith are making the most of services in the town offered at the family hubs, and are grateful to their fellow ward councillors for taking a bigger role for the timebeing on handling residents' concerns.

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