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Decision details

Comprehensive Equalities and Diversity Policy

Decision Maker: Executive Councillor for Communities

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: No

Purpose:

To note the results of public consultation on the impacts of recent changes to the Council's Comprehensive Equalities and Diversity Policy and consider any actions arising.

Decision:

Matter for Decision

The Council’s Comprehensive Equalities and Diversity Policy sets out the Council’s commitment to promoting equality and diversity, including through its role as an employer and a provider of services to the public. A revised and updated version of the policy was presented for approval at the Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee on 4 October 2018. The Officer’s report provided feedback from consultation carried out related to the impacts of the changes, and identified how the Policy would be applied in practice at service level.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor for Communities

The Executive Councillor approved the approach to implementing the revised Comprehensive Equalities and Diversity Policy, as set out in section 6.0 of the officer’s report, subject to amendments that:

·  It is not the Council’s intention to allow non-disabled people to access the disabled changing facilities at any City Council-owned leisure centres (as referred to in 6.12 of the Officer’s report).

·  The planned facilities audit will also explore options for greater privacy for non-disabled people when getting changed at Kings Hedges Learner Pool and Cherry Hinton Village Centre, where existing female and male changing rooms are open plan.

 

Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.

 

Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.

 

Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Equality & Anti-Poverty Officer who set out how the Comprehensive Equalities and Diversity Policy would be applied at a service level based on consultation feedback The Officer clarified that the report presents the council’s current approach to applying the Policy related to single sex services and facilities, based on the evidence that is currently available. The approach to applying the Policy would be kept under review. Any requests to apply the service and employment exceptions in the Equality Act 2010 would be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account any new evidence or adverse impacts identified to other protected characteristic groups.

 

The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

  i.  The Council had a good equalities policy but questioned the writing style. Opposition Councillors expressed concern that the council had presented its policies using incorrect terminology. They took issue with some phraseology in both the committee report and the prefix used for a public speaker in the 4 October 2018 Scrutiny Committee minutes. In relation to the report, they challenged the use of the terms ‘women’ and ‘men’, instead of ‘cis women’ and ‘cis men’, and ‘transsexual women’ and ‘transsexual men’. Opposition Councillors queried how transgender people could have faith in the council if it could not get its terminology correct.

 

All Committee Members supported the principle that council terminology should be correct to avoid causing offence or a sense of exclusion.

 

The Equality & Anti-Poverty Officer said it was not the intention to offend transgender people. The committee report used terminology of the Equality Act 2010 because the report sets out how the Council in practice will meet its legal commitments reflected in the Comprehensive Equalities and Diversity Policy. The Equalities Impact Assessment at Appendix B referred to ‘cis women’, ‘cis men’ and ‘transgender people’ in acknowledgement that these are terms used by organisations the council consulted with that support equalities groups.

 

The Chief Executive undertook to write to the member of the public on behalf of the City Council to apologise for the mistake in the minute of the last meeting.

 

The Executive Councillor also apologised and said there was no intention to cause offence. Council terminology would be reviewed in future and she would ask officers to develop an updated style guide to ensure correct terminology was used.

 

  ii.  Supported the proposal for cubicles (for privacy) in male showers that were currently open plan in Abbey Leisure Complex, Cherry Hinton Village Leisure Centre, Kings Hedges Learner Pool and Parkside Pools.

  iii.  Expressed concern that non-disabled people could access the disabled changing facilities at City Council-owned leisure centres (as referred to in 6.12 of the Officer’s report). It would reduce disabled people’s access to changing facilities if able-bodied people are provided with permission to access disabled facilities.

 

The Equality & Anti-Poverty Officer said that after consideration the council would amend the report to remove non-disabled peoples’ access to disabled facilities.  The recommendation would be amended as follows:

 

The Executive Councillor is recommended to approve the approach to implementing the revised Comprehensive Equalities and Diversity Policy, as set out in section 6.0 of the officer’s report, subject to amendments that:

·  It is not the Council’s intention to allow non-disabled people to access the disabled changing facilities at any City Council-owned leisure centres (as referred to in 6.12 of the Officer’s report).

·  The planned facilities audit will also explore options for greater privacy for non-disabled people when getting changed at Kings Hedges Learner Pool and Cherry Hinton Village Centre, where existing female and male changing rooms are open plan.

 

The Committee unanimously resolved to endorse the recommendation as amended.

 

The Executive Councillor approved the recommendation as amended.

 

Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.

 

Publication date: 06/03/2019

Date of decision: 17/01/2019