PROTESTERS have called on the Alcester Court Leet to allow women to join and vote at the historic organisation.

A group of around 20 women and men protested at the Court Leet's annual meeting at the the Town Hall on Thursday (October 7).

The group held placards saying 'Now' and wore face masks reading 'Equality' during the meeting, which was being held to swear in the new court.

Women are not allowed to serve as court officers, jurors or vote for jurors at the male-only court, which plays a key role in the town's civic life.

The court works to maintain centuries-old town traditions, organises community events and raises money for local causes.

Rebecca Hemming took part in the protest and said allowing women to participate equally in the court would help to protect the organisation for future generations.

The 30-year-old, from Alcester said: "People feel embarrassed and angered by this.

"We're proud of our town and didn't want to take these measures.

"The court is integral to the identity of the town, we want to be inclusive.

"This isn't a case of disrupting tradition, but rather updating it with relevance and inclusion to ensure its importance and respect for the future."

At Thursday's meeting the group were told by the court steward they should take up the issue with the lord of the manor, the Marquess of Hertford of Ragley Hall.

The group have launched an online petition which they aim to present to the the Marquess of Hertford.

Other courts around the country have adapted to allow women to participate, the group has pointed out. The Bromsgrove Court Leet currently has a woman, Jo Slade, serving as their bailiff.

Kathrin Foster, from Alcester, added: "Alcester Court Leet has adapted its tradition from being an institution of white churchgoing land-owners to allowing male residents of any ethnicity and faith to take part. There is no reason for continuing to discriminate on gender in 2021."