Questions arise over RMBC's commitment to equalities

Cllr Saghir AlamCllr Saghir Alam
Cllr Saghir Alam
A COUNCILLOR questioned RMBC’s commitment to equalities after the target date to reach an “excellent” rating was pushed back again.

An update presented to cabinet on Monday detailed how events around the likes of the Women’s Euros and Black History Month had shown progress.

Cllr Saghir Alam, cabinet member for corporate services, community safety and finance, said: “The breadth of activity in the report demonstrates the significant progress the council has made towards this journey of achieving excellent.

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“The council’s leadership has a clear commitment to equalities, diversity and inclusion.”

RMBC remains at the first stage — “developing” — with “achieving” and “excellent” being the higher two ratings.

And Cllr Alam said a peer review by Doncaster Council had shown RMBC had “self-awareness” of the actions required to reach the top level.

But when the report went to scrutiny last week, Cllr Taiba Yasseen questioned why RMBC had been at “developing” status since 2017.

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“I don’t believe equalities is a high priority,” she added. “We are told now that it will take us until 2025 to get to the highest level.

“In 2021, we were told that it was going to happen in 2022. Since that report we have shifted the baseline again.”

“The new date that’s been proposed, 2025, that’s eight years, or two terms of a councillor. This may not be a high priority for the council.”

Paul Woodcock, director of regeneration and environment, responded: “It is a priority.

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“Looking at the paperwork in front of us today, the amount of work and commitment that’s gone into that comes through.

“For example, across culture and tourism, the work we have done in places like the museum at Clifton Park and the exhibition Dishes of Rotherham, was really impressive.

“The Women’s Euros also had a huge impact as well as others like the Women of the World Festival.”

At cabinet, deputy leader Cllr Sarah Allen criticised the “woeful” front cover of the Equalities document.

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She said: “This is a report about people, how we treat and work with people, with lots of case studies and photos.

“But the front cover’s outstanding feature is a narrow boat that looks like it’s floating on a lake next to Clifton Park.”