Agenda item

Strategic Equality Plan


Councillor Mayer presented the report. Councillor Mayer reminded committee that under the Equality Act 2010, the Council is required to report annually on its progress made under the strategic equality objectives and are also required as a Local Authority to publish staff equalities data. Councillor Mayer highlighted new partnerships were developed with external and internal stakeholders and were subject to community engagement. Councillor Mayer noted that the involvement of grassroots communities ensured that the plan provides tangible outcomes for communities. Councillor Mayer acknowledged that there were significant challenges against delivery in some areas of work, but others had gained traction. Councillor Mayer noted that equality work had to be flexible while addressing emerging challenges. Councillor Mayer explained to committee that leaving the EU has been deeply felt by migrant community and the focus of supporting people to be able to remain in Newport and protect their rights continues. Councillor Mayer noted that they were also taking stock of monitoring arrangements and any improvements that could be made to them. Councillor Mayer finished by assuring committee that equality issues are taken very seriously as a cabinet and reminded committee that he chaired for the Strategic Equality group.

The Head of People and Business Change reminded committee that this was the first annual plan based off the new Strategic Equalities plan and that committee could see that there were 6 key focuses. The Head of People and Business Change directed committee to pages 119-121 which was a summary that covered outcomes and key achievements.

The Head of People and Business Change highlighted that the Council had signed up to Race Council Cymru Zero Tolerance policy and the Victims Support Hate Crime Charter. The Head of People and Business Change noted that there has been legislative change regarding the socio-economic duty which has come into effect and has been embedded in decision making. The Head of People and Business Change highlighted the creation of staff groups related to diversity, LGBTQ+ and disabilities to ensure staff voices are heard and also highlighted the accessibility stakeholder group. The Head of People and Business Change noted the close work with the Test, Trace and Protect group to ensure equality and cultural diversity are taken into account, acknowledging the disproportional impact to some minority communities. The Head of People and Business Change noted that Welsh Government Anti-Bullying guidance has been embedded into processes and policies. The Head of People and Business Change highlighted the new scheme for those with learning difficulties to increase independent living and that Community Connectors have worked with 302 residents from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The Head of People and Business Change highlighted that Newport was one of a few Local Authorities that publishes its gender pay gap each year which was reported at Council and noted that this continued to improve. The Head of People and Business Change noted the need to focus on the pay gap associated with other characteristics, and a lot of work has been done to improve that. The Head of People and Business Change highlighted that there was work being done regarding the recruit processes are improved and not exclusive of any qualities. The Head of People and Business Change noted the significant influence of Covid on communities, and the Council’s response to EU settled status which the Head of People and Business Change assured committee that they were working with Home Office regarding these issues.

·         A committee member echoed Councillor Mayer’s comment that sitting on the Strategic Equalities Committee was enjoyable and the work done by officers was bringing Newport into being a more inclusive city. The committee member noted that the report was well put together.


A committee member noted that on page 123 it stated that the Leader of the Council established a community roundtable meeting to bring people of ethnic backgrounds together to discuss race equality and asked for an explanation as to how membership is decided for that group. The committee member noted that the committee member hadn’t heard of the group before.

·         The Head of People and Business Change informed the committee that it was an informal group wherein the Leader meets with some BAME community representatives and was in part a response to Covid but also to the Black Lives Matter issues and other issues seen within Newport. The Head of People and Business Change informed committee that this group met every 3 months.

·         The Connected Communities Managernoted the well-established cultural hub made up of around 23 grassroots community organisations. This hub exists virtually, and members are nominated through these organisations. The Connected Communities Manager also noted that members also come from their main race equality organisations including East Race Council Cymru etc and reiterated that it was established off of the back of Black Lives Matter campaign and a lack of confidence in public services at the time.

A committee member raised concern regarding self-appointed representatives who don’t necessarily represent the views of other people within community. The committee member mentioned the fortnightly meetings with Gwent Police and the Partnership meeting with the Council and asked whether these were similar and asked how people were appointed to the roundtable committee. 

·         The Connected Communities Managerassured the committee that the issue was something they were acutely aware of and that the Leader was passionate about hearing grassroots voices rather than self-appointed ones. The Connected Communities Manager reassured committee that there was a good mix of people who haven’t previously been heard and those who are experienced cultural representatives. The Connected Communities Manager addressed that partnership meetings and the fortnightly dial in were police lead and established in early lockdown; The Connected Communities Manager reminded committee that this was an open invitation to anyone across Gwent.

A committee member wanted to applaud the Leader for her enthusiasm regarding engaging with ethnic minority communities but wanted to emphasise that caution was required, highlighting the importance of the previous committee member’s point. The committee member noted the importance of proper constitution for committees and groups and stated that it was important for Members to know about such groups, who was on them, how they met, how often and why they were meeting/access to meeting minutes. The committee member expressed that we must be mindful of tokenism and move away from it. The committee member highlighted the importance of engaging with various communities in Newport and supporting community cohesion, which must be taken seriously. The committee member questioned the purpose of the One Newport Public Service Board and why had certain issues not been raised there if certain agencies were meeting there. The committee member wished to make the recommendation to look at implementing proper constitution for that committee and for the white community to be included. The committee member raised concern for young people who may feel disconnected could be further alienated when seeing how other communities are engaged and supported. The committee member reiterated concern felt due to the informality of the committee and felt it should be a formal and more advertised. The committee member raised another issue regarding his concern of police stop and search requests on people from mainly ethnic communities and questioned why something hadn’t been done relating to that. The committee member had met with a Senior Police Officer regarding this but noted it had not been followed up. The committee member noted that there had been two reports in The South Wales Argus that showed Newport had a high rate of stop and search and was an issue for the black, Muslim and Asian communities. The committee member expressed that the committee member wanted this issue picked up and wanted to understand more about it. The committee member noted that he was assured by the Police Officer that most cases were justified but  only 25% stop and search made resulted in an offense being committed. The committee member highlighted the 75% of people who had been stopped for no reason. The committee member reiterated that the roundtable group should be formed properly as the committee member didn’t want issues pushed aside because another committee exists.

·         The Head of People and Business Change reminded the committee that the Strategic Equalities group is not a committee but is a group of champions, which has no constitution and is a part of the Cabinet Member’s reaching out to test views. The Head of People and Business Change highlighted that it was not a part of the Council’s decision-making process. The Head of People and Business Change advised that if committee wanted to make recommendation regarding that, it was their decision. The Head of People and Business Change acknowledged the other points such as engaging with communities and commented that it was sometimes difficult to hear other voices and reassured the committee that the Connected Communities Manager and her team do work outside of items discussed to ensure people are heard and discussions are had. The Head of People and Business Change noted the comments made which need to take into consideration and reminded committee that should a recommendation need to be made, that was their prerogative.

A committee member acknowledged working towards having a representative workforce of Newport’s population and noted that this would be difficult to achieve. The committee member was concerned about the display of data regarding representation being contextually relevant to the workforce. The committee member gave the example of disability, with 2.1% of workforce having a disability and questioned how this compared to the population as a whole and whether this would have to be restricted to those under 65 year olds as that’s the retirement age. The committee member noted a similar issue relating to sexual orientation, where 1.3% of the workforce identified as LGBTQ+ and questioned whether in this case the whole population would be compared against as it wasn’t age related. The committee member questioned whether a comparison could be made to illustrate how representative the workforce was. The committee member also highlighted that 76% of the workforce was female and guessed that this was likely due to the nature of the roles, and that these specific figures were a long way off recognising a balance. The committee questioned whether marital status mattered and wasn’t sure of its relevance. The committee member questioned how committee would know how close a representative workforce was, how well is the Council doing currently and what progress was being made.

·         The Head of People and Business Change noted that various weightings may or may be put against data, but it is the protected characteristics in the Equalities Act. The Head of People and Business Change assured committee that where data was available it can be included to compare with latest census data. The Head of People and Business Change informed the committee that the information was an indicator not an absolute as was what had been declared by employees. The Head of People and Business Change noted that in regard to genders employed, when contextualised with the work done by Council and workforce – for example, 3500 employees work in schools which is a notably female-dominated field. The Head of People and Business Change finished by stating that they can include in that how they compare against population.

The committee member followed by noting that ethnicity was an area of focus to achieve a representative workforce. The committee member noted questioned how recognition would be made of the difference between the general public and workforce as on average the former would be older. The committee member reiterated that it would be good to know how well the council is doing in terms of representation and felt the report didn’t wholly reflect that. 

·         The Head of People and Business Change assured committee that additional information would be included. The Head of People and Business Change noted with regards to disabilities, they could look at to compare with age and noted that the Council do have employees over the age of 67 as there is no legal requirement to retire and encouraged skilled and able workers who want to work to do so. The Head of People and Business Change highlighted that in the previous committee discussed the New Normal which has the possibility to increase employees retained that otherwise would have to leave their posts due to ill health. The Head of People and Business Change reiterates that the committee member’s comments have been taken on board and that a table will be included with the caveats around ages.

·         A committee member echoed the Head of People and Business Change’s point regarding Covid’s impact on working conditions meaning more people could be retained.


A committee asked for clarification the second sentence on p123; did “mandated” in this context mean approved and will begin April 2022?

·         The Head of People and Business Change noted that equalities and diversity training up until this point had been non-mandatory and has now been made mandatory training for staff. The Head of People and Business Change assured committee that sessions for members would be put on.

·         The committee member expanded to say that the sentence needed to be reformulated and the Head of People and Business Change made note of this.


6 Conclusion of Committee Reports


Corporate Annual Report and Director of Social Services Report Conclusion

The Scrutiny Adviser noted there were a few comments to clarify.

The Scrutiny Adviser asked how the committee member would like to word comments regarding the “rosy” presentation of Newport.

·         The committee member clarified that the committee member wanted a realistic picture that recognised issues that need resolving with a balance of optimism.

The Scrutiny Adviser noted the comments regarding the lack of comparison between Local Authorities and the recommendation to add the Medieval Ship and canals into the cultural section of the report. The Scrutiny Adviser noted a committee member’s comment regarding being happy with the presentation of the report.

·         A committee member added that the graph on page 8 needs to be reviewed with items needing more explanation and clarity, as well as service areas needing explanation and items to be organised logically. The committee member agreed that the canal needs to be added into the cultural heritage section. The committee member also noted that more information about jobs in Newport, how many businesses are in Newport and their employees, and unemployment rates should be included as these are important measures of the city’s prosperity.

·         The committee noted that DFG facilities on p53 has been put under fourth wellbeing objective but believed they’re in the wrong place.

·         The committee noted that there was an ongoing issue with not being able to make comparisons with previous years’ performance indicators and their consistent change and acknowledged that in some cases this needed to be done but not to the extent that the goalposts seem to have been changed if the committee was happy to make that recommendation.

·         A committee member noted that the issue is exarcerbated from the goalposts being moved by Welsh Government but recommended that as an aside from report some measures be added as appendices. The committee member gave the example that if a KPI has to be shown, it would be nice to see how performance has changed outside of the report and suggested that rather than it being added to the report, it came to committee as a separate item.


·         A committee member noted that the committee member’s point regarding the “rosy” picture of Newport was political and questioned how it would be minuted. The committee member felt that it should be taken to a vote before it was included in the report.

o   A committee member felt that this went back to the question of how minutes are formulated; whether comments are recorded as “the committee” or individual members. The committee member noted that there were no specific points raised regarding the Welsh Labour Government, and that it was a general comment and felt it was reasonable. The committee member expressed that the committee member would be unhappy to take that to a vote and name it a political comment.

o   The Scrutiny Adviser noted that it would be minuted as a something similar to “a committee member asked that the report was balanced”, rather than to recommend as an action from the entire committee.

o   The Scrutiny Adviser stated that comments should be removed from politics, and when individuals are named in minutes it increases the possibility of comments being used politically.

o   A committee member agreed that “a committee member” was appropriate to use regarding previous comments discussed. The committee member highlighted that committee only could give recommendations that may not be carried out.

o   A committee member was happy to be noted as a committee member.

·         The committee commented that out-of-date performance indicators should be updated if necessary and was not content to always use the same performance indicators as that causes issues also.

o   A committee member suggested that backing information should be presented where performance indicators had been changed but were not for this committee to scrutinise.

o   A committee member felt that it would be too much to read, and appendices were not the answer to the issue. The committee member expressed that reports should be clear and accepted that while they were not here to scrutinise the reports. The committee member felt that the committee member was trying to impose some data on the invitees that they didn’t want but accepted their explanation with doubts that targets would be adjusted. The committee member felt this was contrary to continuous improvement to not reassess targets.

o   A committee member agreed with the previous point and felt it was valid.

Strategic Equality Plan

The Scrutiny Adviser noted the shared point as to whether community groups should be formalised in order to accurately represent their communities.

·         The committee commended the community roundtable group initiative in engaging communities, but wanted the terms of invitation to be clarified and groups to be formalised to ensure communities can trust the person(s) representing them.

·         The committee recommended that community roundtable groups be renamed with regards to sensitivity to the Newport Round Table organisation.

·         The Committee agreed that the roundtables should be opened up to the wider community.

·         A committee member expressed that the reports were acceptable but felt that not enough immediacy was expressed, as well as current issues not being addressed universally. The committee member supported the previous comments but felt that more urgency needs be put on this group.

·         The committee requested information on how representative Newport City Council’s workforce as contextual


Supporting documents: