Neal Barton, Policy and Performance Manager introduced the report, which showed how the Council is meeting its responsibilities under the Equalities Act. This year’s report had been updated with information about support for the armed forces community under the Armed Forces Covenant and bronze employer recognition scheme. He highlighted the support for vulnerable people through the use of the Corporate Grants Scheme, the work of the Health and Wellbeing Team, the annual play day events, development of Dementia Friendly Communities and the Silver Sunday events. Also the work with Citizens Advice to assist vulnerable claimants moving to Universal Credit. The report also provided information on the Council’s staff, including the gender pay gap, and highlighted areas for development in 2019 including increasing the number of changing places toilets and more work on being dementia friendly.
In response to questions about holding more play days across the district the Policy and Performance Manager advised that more play days are planned for 2019. A Member suggested that a play day could be held at Janes Lane Recreation Ground, Burgess Hill where there will be new accessible play equipment and a Changing Places toilet.
Members also discussed hate crime, conviction rates for crime generally, progress with Dementia Friendly communities, the importance of bus services to rural areas, expansion of the falls prevention programme and queried how widely the report is published.
The Policy and Performance Manger stated that the report is published on the Council’s website. The Scrutiny Committee receives an annual report on the Mid Sussex Partnership, which provides more information about crime in the District. It was confirmed that the Health and Wellbeing Team are looking to expand the falls prevention programme through additional venues and a road show. The Team were also involved with providing Dementia Friends training and would investigate the possibility of including this in staff induction.
A Member noted that there is a new armed forces veterans’ identity badge, which was confirmed by the Cabinet Member for Community who suggested that this should be publicised more.
Judy Holmes, Assistant Chief Executive noted that it was an aspiration of the Council to achieve Disabled Parking Accreditation for all the Council’s car parks and further information will be provided to the Scrutiny Committee for Customer Servicers and Service Delivery.
The Cabinet Member for Community acknowledged the importance of bus services for rural areas. With regard to expansion of the play days, he suggested that Town and Parish Councils could look to run their own school holiday play days. He agreed that the Falls Prevention Service is important and needs to be taken to the rural areas. Disabled facilities grants were working in tandem with the Wellbeing Team to help elderly residents live independently in their own homes.
The Cabinet Member commented that conviction rates are the responsibility of the Police and criminal justice system. Additional Police and Community Support Officer posts are planned following the increase in the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner’s precept for 2019/20. He had visited the CCTV suite at Lewes Police Headquarters to view the extensive capabilities of the new camera system. He also mentioned the adoption of new powers to deal with antisocial behaviour discussed at the last meeting of this Scrutiny Committee
The Chairman thanked the Cabinet Member for his comprehensive report and noted that no Members wished to speak so moved to the recommendation, which was agreed unanimously.
(i) Endorsed the Council’s approach to meeting its duties under the Equality Act, as evidenced by the Equality and Diversity Progress Report 2018 included at Appendix 1.