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