Cabinet member becomes the first Merton councillor to take maternity leave

One of Merton Council’s cabinet members, Councillor Natasha Irons, is the first councillor in the local authority’s history to take maternity leave from her role as an elected member.

Councillor Irons, who is Cabinet Member for Local Environment and Green Spaces, begins her maternity leave this month after she gave birth to her son. Councillor Mike Brunt will be the first councillor to provide maternity cover when he takes on her portfolio.

This first-ever maternity arrangement is part of Merton Council’s commitment to families and to encouraging a wider range of people to become councillors and to support existing councillors, who may want to start a family, to remain as councillors.

It follows a decision to update the council’s policies from February 2020, making it explicit that councillors have an entitlement to parental leave after giving birth or adopting a child.

Council Leader, Councillor Mark Allison, said: “Merton is a great place for families and I am committed to ensuring that we have family-friendly arrangements in place for all our councillors.

“I was delighted to update the council’s policies last year. As a result, Merton now achieves a historic milestone, with Councillor Irons becoming our first Cabinet Member to take maternity leave. I am also very happy to appoint Councillor Brunt as our first ever interim cabinet member.

“We would all like to congratulate Natasha and her family on their new arrival and I look forward to working with Mike during the coming months.”

Councillor Natasha Irons said: “As I start my maternity leave, I’m delighted to become the first Merton councillor and mother to be able to take this important time with my new son and our family. I’d like to thank the fantastic staff at St Helier Hospital, where he was born. “I hope that the maternity, paternity and adoption leave for councillors will encourage a wider range of people to stand as councillors in the future and to support existing councillors to continue in their roles if they want to start or add to their families.”