Report on public consultation on LCCC Draft Equality Action Plan 2021-2025
As a public authority, under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act, we have to comply with statutory equality and good relations duties when carrying out our functions.
Specifically, we must have ‘due regard to the need to need to promote equality of opportunity between:
- persons of different religious belief, political opinion, racial group, age, marital status or sexual orientation
- men and women generally
- persons with a disability and persons without
- persons with dependants and persons without
We must also have “regard to the desirability of promoting good relations between persons of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group”.
Our Equality Scheme sets out how we propose to fulfil these duties. One of our commitments, while not a statutory requirement, is to produce an Equality Action Plan.
We commit to consulting on this Plan and we report annually to the Equality Commission on progress.
Our first Equality Action Plan covered the period 2015-2020 and a new plan for 2021-2025 was prepared earlier this year for consultation.
2. Consultation methodology – how we consulted
Our public consultation on the Draft Equality Action Plan opened on 28 June 2021 and closed on 17 September 2021. It was promoted with a press release on our website and via our social media channels.
Analysis showed that the webpage news article promoting the consultation was viewed 180 times and social media channels had a reach of 13,670 with 263 engagements.
The consultation was communicated directly to our consultation database (175 contacts) and, as it is a commitment in our Disability Action Plan to consult with disabled people, we also specifically targeted regional and local disability groups (32 contacts). These groups were asked to promote the consultation to their service users and encourage them to respond, as well as consider a corporate response.
Consultees were invited to send feedback by completing a short survey on the website (using the SmartSurvey online tool) but we made clear that the equality officer would welcome feedback in any format that suited, for example, by email or telephone. We also offered to make the plan and the consultation survey available in alternative formats and languages if required.
We received one request for an alternative format – a Braille version.
3. Overview of respondents
In total, five responses were received by the closing date. Three responses were received via the online survey (two individuals and one disability support organisation) and two were received by other means.
Feedback was provided informally in a focus group with the Cedar Foundation’s User Forum (which was organised initially to seek feedback on our Disability Action Plan) and by an individual respondent by email and telephone.
4. Summary of feedback
4.1 Feedback from online responses on proposed actions
All the online respondents said they agreed with the proposed actions in the draft plan for all six themes. However, they made suggestions about other things Council could or should do to promote equality.
Comments on specific themes included:
- service provision
- need for more effort to obtain public views and opinions.
- access to Information
- need for better signage - larger font sizes both in shops and Council notices - and more audio announcements to help with navigation and rules.
- our community
- more effort needed to obtain public views, particularly regarding safe spaces for women and girls, including provision of single occupancy toilets to alleviate concerns about the perceived risk of sexual offences which can be exacerbated by media coverage
- health and wellbeing
- more effort to obtain views particularly from Vitality members. There should be a dedicated and advertised email account for feedback and an annual request for service review
- training. This is essential for management and staff to draw their attention to issues involving disabled people. Training needs to be updated regularly because of staff turnover.
4.2 Feedback/comments from other responses
Respondents from the Cedar Foundation User Forum welcomed the opportunity to take part in the consultation and gave general feedback rather than on the proposed actions specifically. They included people with physical and learning disability.
Their feedback included:
- users who are not online need to receive information from LCCC in formats other than online, for example, hard copy or through briefings from staff or community representatives.
- some people with physical disabilities, e.g. wheelchair users and those who are blind or partially sighted, continue to experience issues with some kerbs, pavement cafés and other obstructions.
- public bodies like councils need to make sure they consult disabled people and allow them to give their views before changes are made that will affect them.
- we should actively promote accessible spaces and services to encourage people with disabilities and others to use them.
4.3 Other comments/suggestions
- making an inclusive society for all people living in this area and working with local statutory, voluntary and community organisations and groups to ensure we can achieve this
- not enough publicly accessible toilets
- more school buses to take traffic off the roads
- more transport for attending hospital appointments
- after bin collection bins randomly left on the pavement causing hazards when walking for the blind, partially sighted and wheelchair users
- ensure that the public can provide their views in the easiest and least bureaucratic means possible
- online surveys with agree/disagree statements are great for those who are tech savvy and postal surveys to include those without the means of technology
- access to information – we need to ensure that online communications, including larger documents and surveys, are fully accessible for those who use text to speech software
- accessible built environment and services – we must respond appropriately when feedback about accessibility issues is provided
- We should promote good accessibility practice and take rigorous action against traders who breach the terms of licences, for example, for pavement cafes and street trading
5. Council response to feedback and suggestions
5.1 Feedback from this consultation will be shared with relevant teams and reflected on in equality training for staff. It will also inform future equality screening exercises and review of services generally.
5.2 We have noted in particular comments on accessible information and communications and appropriate consultation. We will take further steps to increase knowledge and skills of staff who are promoting services and running consultations.
5.3 We note the comments on matters that are not the direct responsibility of this council and the view that council should work collaboratively with other sectors to ensure an inclusive society. This feedback will be communicated to inform community planning.
5.4 We note comments on safety concerns in relation to women and girls and this feedback will be communicated to the Policing and Community Safety Partnership.
5.5 We consider that we do not need to make any substantive changes to the proposed actions in the draft plan as a result of this consultation. However, the plan will be reviewed annually and may be updated or revised accordingly.
6. Next steps
Once approved by the council, this consultation report was published on our website and circulated to consultees.
The final Equality Action Plan is also published on our website and was circulated to consultees. It will be made available in alternative formats and languages, on request.
LCCC will review this plan and report on progress to the Equality Commission in our annual Equality Progress Report.