Agenda item

Questions to Portfolio Holders, if any.

(At least two clear days notice required, in writing, to the Proper Officer in accordance with Procedure Rule 15).

Minutes:

1.    Question received from Councillor Hoptroff

 

“What personal responsibility do District Councillors have under the Equality Act 2010 to counter racism and promote diversity in their actions, statements and behaviour?”

 

Response:

 

The Equality Act 2010 Act provides the basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions; premises; work; education; associations, and transport.

 

The general equality duty set out in the Equality Act as it relates to the Council (as a corporate body) says that it must, in the exercise of its functions, have due regard to the need to:

 

·         Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and other conduct prohibited by the Act.

·         Advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

·         Foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.

 

These are sometimes referred to as the three aims or arms of the general equality duty. The Act explains that having due regard for advancing equality involves:

 

·         Removing or minimising disadvantages suffered by people due to their protected characteristics.

·         Taking steps to meet the needs of people from protected groups where these are different from the needs of other people.

·         Encouraging people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is disproportionately low

 

The Equality Act duty is placed on the Council rather than individual councillors. However, the Council’s code of conduct is consistent with the seven principles of public life and requires councillors, when acting in their capacity as a Member of the Council, to:

 

·         Provide leadership to the authority and communities within its area, by personal example and

·         Respect others and not bully (including any unwanted behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated, degraded, humiliated or offended) any person

 

By way of supplementary questions, Councillor Hoptroff wished to know what action the Council would take in response to any racist or sexist social media posts made by members. Mark Trillo – Executive Director (People) and Monitoring Officer, advised that any complaints received would be dealt with in accordance with the arrangements for dealing with standards allegations under the Localism Act 2011.

 

Councillor Hoptroff also referred to alleged comments made by Councillor Ralphs at the recent meeting of the Service Delivery Overview and Scrutiny Panel, and asked if this matter would be looked into. The Panel was advised that should a formal complaint be received then it would be dealt with in accordance with the procedures mentioned previously.

 

2.    Question received from Councillor Yates

 

“Since 2015 it has been mandatory for Police Authorities to collect data on hate crimes. Hate crimes are defined as acts of hostility or prejudice the victim believes is directed against them by reason of disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation. What data exists between 2015 to 2019 for Staffordshire Police Authority and what data exists pertaining to the Staffordshire Moorlands area?”

 

Response:

 

The following information has been received from Staffordshire Police:

 

 

Number of Reported Hate Crimes

 

Staffordshire

Staffordshire Moorlands

2015

1,055

56

2016

1,361

62

2017

1,673

61

2018

1,578

66

2019

1,493

59

Total

7,160

304

 

Councillor Yates asked if the Police could provide some more detailed information for these crimes. In particular, where the incidents had taken place and if there were any trends. The Portfolio Holder advised that this data would need to be supplied by the Police, however, the Council’s Licencing Team may be able to assist with some of this information. The Council would only be involved in cases where a Hate crime had occurred within a licenced premise. Councillor Swindlehurst suggested that it may worth exploring the Pub Watch scheme which used to run in the area a while ago, and a request was made by Councillor Holmes (Police, Fire and Crime Representative for the Council) for Councillor Yates to email him with any queries and he would ask the Commissioner directly for a response.

 

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