Agenda item

Scrutiny of the Strategic Equality Plan

Scrutiny of the Strategic Equality Plan following the consultation period. 


Cabinet Member Angela Sandles andMatthew Gatehouse introduced the report and answered the members’ questions. 

Key points raised by members: 

·        Whether it was premature to endorse the Council sets its budget and the implications for the budget.  

·        Members asked about the risks and challenges that the Council may face in delivering the strategy. 

·        Its vitally important to recognise that all residents face difficulties of some sort and that there should be recognition of this, particularly in relation to the rural problems and associated hardship.  

·        Acknowledgement that protected characteristics can often overlap and the need to refer to the effect of raising the state pension age in terms of employment. 

·        In relation to the protected characteristic of sex, perhaps there could be the inclusion that we are working with partners to reduce sexual violence and that it’s not an issue solely for women and the importance of engagement with boys and young men. 

·        The strategy may benefit from including how women undergoing the menopause are supported at work 

·        There is a need for consistency within the strategy in terms of the protected characteristics. 

·        There can be tensions between protected characteristics, with the ideal of equality can be being lost on occasions, members questioning whether this had had sufficient consideration. 

·        In terms of the LGBTQ+ section of the document, there may be a need to include under the curriculum, that teaching in this area needs to be critical and pluralistic according to case law ~ it is important to note that there is now case law that gender critical views are recognised as a philosophical conviction protected in law. 

Chair’s Summary: 

The report was scrutinised in depth, discussion focussing on rural poverty and the implications for our future economy, particularly for farmers. Members recognised that the document is a live document and that there will be opportunities to consider progress and revise the document to reflect the nature of Monmouthshire and gather more evidence. Members acknowledged there will be a need to align the document with the budget. The committee agreed that plan was well drafted and offered a clear vision, but there were some points for officers and cabinet to reflect on, in particular the protected characteristic of sex. There were some comments around particularly sexual violence and how we work with boys and young men on issues related to personal safety. Sexual harassment reports in schools were discussed and members felt it was important to maintain single sex spaces. Members raised the need to consider how women going through the menopause are supported and the raising of state pension age and the implications of that were also highlighted. Members recognised the conflicts and tensions between different groups and the idea of equality for all and suggested there may be a need to check some of the terminology and the consistency within the document, particularly regarding the protected characteristics. In addition, a member raised a concern about the objective of providing an LGBTQ plus inclusive education and how it aligns with the teaching approach, suggesting teaching should be a critical objective and should be pluralistic, with religion and culture needs taken into account. Members agreed the summary reflected the view of the committee and offered its support to the plan, with feedback being offered to the Cabinet Member. 



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