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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Meeting Room - Brown's Field Community Centre, 31a Green End Road Cambridge CB4 1RU. View directions

Contact: Toni Birkin  Committee Manager

No. Item


Welcome, Introductions and Apologies

Norah Al Ani resignation from the Equalities Panel – Norah has recently decided to step down from the Equality Panel after many years of giving her support. We would like to express in the notes of the meeting our thanks and deep gratitude for all of her work and wish her all the best for her future. The Strategy Officer will shortly begin the process of recruiting a new public member for the Panel.



Apologies were received from Councillor Gerri Bird, Nicky Wrigley, Joe Obe and Jackie Hanson.


The Panel noted the resignation of Norah Al Ani and expressed their gratitude for her contributions the Equalities Panel over a number of years.


Declarations of Interest


No interests were declared.


Minutes of Previous Meeting and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 70 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the 2nd February 2015 were agreed as a correct record.


Diversity Forum Update - Accessibility - Mark Taylor

The Diversity Forum invited a number of speakers to talk about accessibility issues in the City and has asked participants to suggest a number of ways to encourage good practice. This list of ideas will be published on the City Council website as a resource for businesses, organisations and individuals. The Panel will hear a summary of the discussion from Mark Taylor – the Council’s Access Officer and will be asked to add any suggestions that they might have to the good practice list. This discussion will be informed by the  accessibility issues for users, residents and visitors identified in the recent report from the Cambridge City Centre Access Study (see link below) commissioned by the Council. This report focussed on streets and open spaces owned and managed by the City Council and the County Council.





Mark Taylor gave an oral summary on the presentations and discussions that had taken place at the Diversity Forum earlier in the day.


The Forum had enjoyed a good attendance and a variety of disability groups were represented.


Those present had received two presentations as follows:


1.   Graham Lewis from Cambridgeshire Alliance for Independent Living.

2.   Mark Taylor – the City Council’s Access Officer


Both spoke about some of the accessibility problems and good practice in the City.


The Diversity Forum comments in response to the presentation had common themes:


     i.        The cityscape was regarded as largely inhospitable to those with disabilities. This was agreed to be a wider issue for other groups too, such those with push chairs or older people who might be unsteady on their feet.

    ii.        Poor maintenance of footpaths and road surfaces.

   iii.        Lack of consideration or awareness of fellow citizens.

  iv.        The increasing ability of technology to assist disabled people, such as audio visual information on buses and phone apps that provided oral directions.


The Panel thanked Mark for his concise summary. The Panel shared the Diversity Forum’s views on inconsiderate cyclists and inconvenient A boards and suggested that more could be done to raise awareness.


The Panel suggested that the Cambridge City Centre Access Study should be shared with the County Council once it had been discussed at the Community Services Scrutiny Committee.


Workforce Report - Deborah Simpson pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Every year the Council produces a report about how the Council’s workforce reflects the profile of the local community. In particular, in order to meet the public sector’s specific duties as described by the Equality Act 2010, the Council publishes staff-related data on the following: ethnicity, disability, gender, age, religion or belief, and sexual orientation. Deborah Simpson, Head of Human Resources, will go through the key points of the report and answer any questions that the Panel may have. The Workforce Report is attached as a separate paper for you to read before the meeting.



The Panel received a report regarding the Workforce Report from Deborah Simpson, the Head of Human Resources. Recruitment monitoring was used to highlight potential barriers to applicants.


When the Panel had considered this report last year, further data on non-responders to equality monitoring on sexual orientation and religion or belief had been requested. Further investigation of this had shown that the Council’s response rates were better than peer organisations.


In response to questions from the Panel, the Head of Human Resources and the Chief Executive confirmed the following:


     i.        Information on pay bands was in the public domain.

    ii.        Pay tables would be included in future reports to the Panel as it was acknowledged that pay grades alone were unhelpful to an external audience.

   iii.        Staff had the choice on declaring disabilities and, whilst they were made aware that additional support could be provided following a declaration, some still chose not to do so.

  iv.        Mental health related issues were under recorded in most organisations.

   v.        The City Council has a low staff turn-over which impacts on the rate that changes to the staffing profiles can be achieved. However, the Council is taking action to ensure that the Council’s workforce reflects the diversity of the communities it serves.


Single Equality Scheme Update - David Kidston.

At the special meeting of the Equality Panel on 2 February 2015, David Kidston, Strategy and Partnership Manager, presented the draft Single Equality Scheme Panel as part of the wider public consultation on the new scheme. He will give a brief verbal update on the findings of the consultation and the progress made to date on the Single Equality Scheme 2015 -2018.



The Strategy and Partnerships Manager, David Kidston, gave an oral update on the progress of the Single Equality Scheme. Following the feedback from the Panel in February 2016, further consultation had taken place with a number of key stakeholder groups. Direct public consultation via an online survey on the Council’s website had produced a small but well informed response. The revised scheme would be considered by the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee in July. In future, Annual Reports would come to the Panel for comments.


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


     i.        Welcomed the recognition that people could fit in to more than one of the equalities strands.

    ii.        Judith Margolis: The taxi scheme was sometimes abused. Some drivers were reluctant to pick up disabled passengers and did not observe the regulations.

   iii.        Jenna Varga: The complaints policy is currently under review and ways of adding equalities information to the form, without making it too onerous to complete, were under consideration. This had been tried and had failed in the past but it was hoped that improved technology would made it possible.

  iv.        Suzanne Goff: Confirmed that work was on-going to standardise monitoring forms.

   v.        Ari Henry: A number of consultations were currently underway to provide an evidence base on the needs of various equality strands, including women, men, people with disabilities, BAME residents and faith communities. She requested that the Panel encourage people to take part in the on-line surveys on the Council’s website, particularly the survey of residents with disabilities. More information can be found using the link  below:




New areas for discussion for the Equalities Panel in 2015/ 2016

At the Equalities Panel meeting in June 2014, we asked all members of the Equalities Panel for suggestions as to themes or topics that they would like to discuss at meetings of the Panel and the Diversity Forum. Since then, the Panel and the Forum have considered children and young people’s issues, disability and accessibility issues, welfare reform and anti-poverty issues including food banks, credit unions and food poverty. In previous years we have considered older peoples issues, hate crime and welfare reform. We would welcome suggestions from the Panel on new topics for the coming year.



1.   Welfare reform – an update on Universal Credit and the impacts of welfare reforms to date in Cambridge.

2.   Women as victims of domestic or sexual abuse.

3.   Mental Health, including a report on City Council activity during World Mental Health Week and an update from the County Council on their Mental Health Strategy

4.    An update on the Prevent project, which is focussing on the community cohesion aspects of the counter-terrorism agenda and is working across communities.

5.   Integration and attitudes towards immigration.

6.   Digital inclusion.

7.   Older people’s experiences of financial abuse and fraud.