Agenda and minutes

Equality and Diversity Forum
Thursday, 16th July, 2009 7.00 pm

Venue: Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, SM1 1EA

Contact: Linda Fisher, Project Manager, 020 8770 5091 

No. Item



Estimated time – 2 minutes


Apologies were received from Edwin McCarthy (Physical and Sensory Disabilities Partnership Board), Ben Unsworth (Equality and Engagement Manager), Frances Newell (Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust), Jackie Gourley (HM Prison Downview) and Dr. Mohammed Saquib (Sutton Minority Ethnic Forum).




of the meeting held on 14 May 2009.


Estimated time: 5 minutes


The Minutes of the meeting held on 14 May 2009were approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chair subject to the following amendment:


Page 2, 2nd paragraph should read Edwina Currie, and not Edwina Curry.




brought forward at the direction of the Chair, who has approved the reason for urgency.


Estimated time : 10 minutes


There was no urgent business.




Oral presentation by the Project Manager.


Estimated time : 5 minutes


Linda Fisher, Project Manager, highlighted to the forum the existence of the Information Bulletin which was a way to advertise events/happenings or interesting information.  Minutes of groups’ meetings could also be included.  Linda stated that the Information Bulletin was an ideal way of advertising, so urged the forum not to miss out on this golden opportunity. 


Despatch date for the next Information Bulletin is Friday 18 September 2009.

Linda asked for any items to be sent to her by Wednesday 16 September either by e-mail at or by post at Democratic Services, Civic Offices, St. Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA.




Nicholas Taylor, Executive Head of Extended Services and Early Years will be introducing to the group the work currently underway to develop a co-ordinated approach to addressing child poverty in Sutton.


Estimated time : Presentation: 10 minutes/Questions: 10 minutes


Nicholas Taylor, Executive Head of Extended Services and Early Years gave a presentation on the work currently underway to develop a co-ordinated approach to addressing child poverty in Sutton and advised that the Child Poverty Bill proposed that along with the UK Government, each of the devolved administrations be responsible for taking the action necessary to accelerate progress towards the eradication of child poverty by 2020.  In summary the UK-wide Bill will:


1)     Establish four income targets to be met by 2020, which will define the eradication of child poverty:


·        Relative poverty: Less than 10 per cent of children living in relative low income poverty by 2020 (i.e. in households with less than 60 per cent of the median income).


·        Material Deprivation: Less than 5 per cent of children living in combined material deprivation and low income (i.e. households with less than 70 per cent of median income).


·        Persistent Poverty: percentage of children living in relative poverty for three out of four years (target level to be set by the end of 2014 as data is currently unavailable)


·        Absolute low income: less than 5 per cent of children living in families with an income below an absolute threshold.


2)     Require the Government to publish a UK child poverty strategy, which must be revised every three years.  The strategy will set out the policies that will be put in place to meet the targets.


3)     Establish a child poverty commission to provide advice on the development of the child poverty strategies.


4)     Require the Government to publish annual progress reports.


5)     There are a number of specific requirements for local authorities (LA):


·        LAs and partner authorities (Primary Care Trusts, Policy Authorities, Chief Officers of Police, Transport for London and Strategic Health Authorities) will be required to work together to reduce, and mitigate the effects of child poverty – each LA will be required to make arrangements to promote co-operation with each of its partner authorities and other ‘person or bodies as the authority thinks fit’.


·        LAs will have to produce a needs assessment setting out the characteristics of which children and families are in poverty in the local area.


·        LAs and partners to prepare a joint child poverty strategy, based on the needs assessment setting out the steps that each partner will take


·        LAs to have regard to tackling child poverty in the production and revision of their Sustainable Communities Strategy.


It is the intention that these duties will be delivered through existing partnerships such as the Local Strategic Partnership, rather than creating new partnerships. 






Sutton is often perceived to be a green and affluent part of London, but in reality it is a borough of geographical, economic and social contrasts.  For many Sutton residents, the consequences of social and economic inequality take root pre-birth (or in early childhood); these factors then determine the course of the rest of their lives; and finally they culminate in what can be up to a six year differential in life expectancy.


Nic explained  ...  view the full minutes text for item 111.



Verbal update by Adam French on the formation of this organisation.


Estimated time: 10 minutes


Adam French, Domestic Violence (DV) and Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) Co-ordinator gave a presentation on the formation of the Domestic Violence Forum which highlighted the following points:


  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime
  • In over 50% of know cases, children were also directly abused
  • Domestic Violence accounts for 20% of all violence crime
  • 30% of domestic violence starts in pregnancy
  • 2053 reported incidents in Sutton during 2007/8
  • Only 35% of victims report the abuse to anyone
  • Only 19% of victims make a report to the Police
  • Actual number of incidents is likely closer to 11,000.


Adam explained that the DV Forum was a place for:


  • Practitioners and service users to network, share ideas, and work in a more co-ordinated manner
  • Identify gaps and how service can be improved
  • Contribute to a co-ordinated community response by ensuring that agencies work together, not in isolation
  • Victims to access a range of services


Adam stated that there is a 3 year DV Strategy (2009-2011) which commits to reducing the frequency and consequences of DV and increasing the safety and options for those affected.  The DV Strategic Group and Practitioner’s Forum will work to promote these goals.  If DV incidents were reduced by 5%, £6335k would be saved on services to victims in Sutton, so preventative measures will pay for themselves.


Adam advised that MARAC was first established in Cardiff in April 2003 and was a national initiative backed by the Home Office.  There are currently 229 MARACs nationally and the number is increasing.  MARAC meets once a month to discuss the 10% highest risk DV cases and encourages a multi-agency approach.  There are various agencies represented at Sutton’s MARAC, i.e. Metropolitan Police, Adult Social Services, Women’s Aid (Refuge) and many others.


Adam also advised that the Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVA) for Sutton, and also Merton, is run by Victim Support, provides support and advice to victims and helped them all the way through the process.  Too often victims disengage because they are afraid or do not have confidence in the system.  The IDVA helps them to keep engaged in order that they can get help and liaises with other services as appropriate.  The telephone number of the IDVA is 0208 685 1637.


The contact details for the DV Forum are as follows:


Adam French, DV& MARAC Co-ordinator, telephone: 020 8649 0683,

Andrea Welsh, IDVA, telephone: 020 8685 1681, e-mail:

PC Fay Washington, Patrol Officer, Metropolitan Police Crime Support Unit, telephone: 020 8649 0739 e-mail:


            Resolved: (i) To thank Adam French for his informative presentation.


            (ii) To note the above.




A new law has been passed (The Sustainable Communities Act) that asks people to put forward ideas to Government on how to improve their local area, local economy and the environment.  Ben Unsworth, Equality and Engagement Manager and Councillor Ruth Dombey will explain how the act works and what it could mean for Sutton.


Estimated time : 15 minutes



Ruth Dombey advised that a new law had been passed called The Sustainable Communities Act that asks people to put forward ideas to Local Government on how to improve their area, local economy and the environment. 


It had been suggested that one big idea should be put forward instead of a number of smaller ideas.  The London Borough of Sutton would be a pilot for the Planning Appeals Board to be transferred locally.


Ruth explained that this idea had been received favourably by the majority of Local Committees.


Resolved: That the forum agreed that the transfer of the Planning Appeals Board be put forward to Local Government.




a)         Verbal update on the work of the Forum and its future plans by Brother Shafi Chowdhury


Attached is a report on the Forum’s public meeting addressed by Edwina Currie held on the 18th June 2009.


Estimated time: 5 minutes


b)         Briefing on the Month of Ramadan.


Estimated time: 5 minutes

Additional documents:


Sister Rouba advised of the Question Time which had been held in Greenshaw School with members of different faiths and focused on 15 year olds.  It was hoped to do this again in the future and to extend it to other schools.


Brother Shafi Chowdhury advised the forum of an ‘Open Evening’ on Thursday 18 June 2009 at the Civic Offices in Sutton. Forty guests attended consisting of a good mixture of religious groups and council officers.  Some of the guests were from other areas that were just starting up an interfaith group and wanted to see how the Sutton Faith & Belief Forum operated.


The main speaker was Edwina Currie who gave a potted history of her careers and achievements, ending with a quote from one of her colleagues ‘Edwina Currie has a bras neck, silver tongue and a golden pen’.


A full copy of the report on the ‘Open Evening’ was circulated with the agenda for this meeting but anyone requiring a copy,  please contact, telephone: 020 8770 5091 or write to Democratic Services, Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA.


Brother Shafi made the forum aware of the Month of Ramadan which runs from Saturday 22 August to Saturday 19 September 2009 during which Muslim adults are required to fast. The sick and those on journey can defer the Fast of RAMADAN to make it up on a later date.


Fasting is an old religious customer.  It was practised by Hindus, Jews, Christians and by many others, often for the purpose of self-preparation for communication with divinity.


            Resolved: To note the above.



Verbal update by Joanna Warwick on the public meeting of the Sutton Women’s Forum.


Estimated time : 10 minutes


Ruth Dombey said that the Sutton Women’s Forum’s first public meeting held on the 11 June 2009 was fairly well attended. 


Ruth advised that the forum have been carrying out some interesting work which included the following items:


  • Breastfeeding survey
  • ‘Women only’ swimming, not just for Muslims but for all women.
  • Exploring developing policies offering preference to women in car parking
  • Taking charge of vox pop element of Take Part, Take Pride; “Sutton Speaks” event on the 12 July 2009
  • Involvement in International Women’s Day


Ruth said that the next public meeting will be on Wednesday 9 September 2009 in the Civic Offices starting at 7.30 pm.  The theme of the meeting is ‘999 – Women’s Safety’ and the forum has secured a speaker from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and Adam French from the Safer Sutton Partnership Service.  Children are welcome to the meeting.




Verbal update on the Annual General Meeting and progress on the 2009 Councillor Shadowing Scheme.


Estimated time : 10 minutes


Jeanne Vernette, Chair, Sutton Minority Ethnic Forum stated that the Annual General Meeting held on the 17 June 2009 had been successful with approximately 70 people attending, 40 of which registered for membership.  To date there are now 140 members.  The election of the Executive Committee took place consisting of 11 members, 6 of them new members.

She explained that she was appointed as Chair of the forum. 


The newly appointed committee met two weeks ago.  Representatives from the Police Forum, BME Mental Health Forum and other allied groups attended so as to do some networking.  The forum would like to add service providers, i.e. Strategic Development, Sutton Police and Surrey Ambulance.


Jeanne advised that the SMEF Open Day on the 3lst March had also been a success and at the Sutton Housing Partnership’s event further connections had been made.  A SMEF logo has now been designed. 


Jeanne said that the forum would be involved in the following work:


Councillor Shadowing Scheme

Local PCT health issues

Black and Minority Ethnic issues

Black History Month

Youth events

Caribbean issues

Fund raising

Increase membership

Reaching out to groups

Encouraging minority ethnic groups to engage with domestic violence and poverty

Form partnerships with Council and other bodies.


As regards the Councillor Shadowing Scheme, Jeanne explained that was the newly appointed co-ordinator, together with someone else, to organise this event for 2009.  8-10 people had been signed up and would like 20-30 people.  The forum would be working with Councillor Ruth Dombey. The timetable would consist of visits to Houses of Parliament, City Hall, attending scrutiny meetings and councillor surgeries.  Minority Ethnic Employees Group is to be involved, as are many other groups.  The scheme will be run through the month of October to make it more flexible and talk with other groups will continue to get them involved.


            Resolved: To note the above.




A summary of the Equality Bill was circulated with the Information Bulletin.  Dennis Bartholomew, Senior Policy Officer (Equalities) will brief the meeting on the bill’s provisions and Councillor Margaret Ali will give a short verbal presentation from an everyday perspective.



Dennis Bartholomew, Senor Policy Officer (Equalities) advised that a summary of the Equality Bill had been circulated with the Information Bulletin. 


Dennis said that after a lengthy period of consultation, the Equality Bill had

been published in April.  Dennis also advised that the briefing paper provided details of the proposals in the bill including a summary of current equality laws; key equality and diversity challenges; the Government’s proposals for redressing these challenges; the current situation, and sources of additional information.


The main provisions of the Bill are:


1)                 The creation of a public sector duty to reduce socio-economic inequalities.


·        A duty to take a strategic view of poverty when designing policies and procedures

·        Links into the community cohesion strategy.


2)                 Placing a new unified equality duty on public bodies.


·        Local authorities will have a duty to promote all equality strands.


3)                 Revisions to equality schemes and the introduction of equality objectives


·        Enables public bodies to reduce the paperwork and processes associated with equality and diversity.


4)                 Revisions to the commissioning of equality impact assessments


·        Enables public bodies to move away from the rigid manner in which equalities are assessed internally.


5)                 Using public sector procurement to advance equality


The conditions attached to purchasing by public bodies will extend equality and diversity protection to the private sector.


6)                 Banning age discrimination outside the workplace.


7)                 Introducing gender pay and equality reports.


8)                 Extending the scope of positive action


·        Positive action is different from positive discrimination.


9)                 The strengthening of disability equality protection


·        A recent case before the courts has recued significantly disability equality protection.  The Bill will restore this protection.


10)             Protecting associated persons from discrimination


·        Case of a carer.


11)             Strengthening the powers of employment tribunals.


The Bill makes equality and diversity simpler, provides equality between strands, makes public bodies more accountable and expands equality and diversity.




Councillor Margaret Ali informed the forum that on her arrival to England from Lebanon 42 years ago, she was completely oblivious about race issues until the renting of a room in Southport proved difficult because of her nationality.  Councillor Ali stated that since the 1967 Race Relations Act she had not encountered racial abuse and with the new Bill it would assist in fighting gender equality.  Councillor Ali thought that the Bill was exciting and would bring together strands to give more power as issues could be fought under one strand.  Women are serious and united about issues, with women now helping women in Parliament. 


Councillor Ali stated that everyday life should now be changed but minority groups have specific problems with 40% of them living in poverty.  She said that attention should be given to certain minority groups and focus should be on women in general and women with disabilities as Parliament are under-represented.  All employees should take positive action as there is a lot of work to be done on these issues.


The various other issues raised were:




The date of the next meeting will be on Thursday 8 October 2009 at 7.00 pm in the small hall, Salvation Army, Benhill Avenue, Sutton.


The date of the next meeting will be on Thursday 8 October 2009 at 7.00 pm in the small hall, Salvation Army, Benhill Avenue, Sutton.