Last week, Martin published as a “guest blog” an open letter which I had sent to the members of Brent Council’s new Equalities Committee, ahead of their meeting on 13 July. LINK
The day after their meeting, the chair of that committee, Cllr. Michael Pavey, wrote to me in reply to my open letter. With his permission, I am setting out the main text of his reply, so that “Wembley Matters” readers can consider the points he has made, as part of a balanced discussion:-
‘The Committee met for the first time last night and as part of our discussions on the implementation of my Review, we decided to remove the "success criteria" relating to successfully defended ETs. We opted to remove the clause entirely, rather than to replace it. This was a unanimous decision.
Your suggestion that the Council withdraw from the Race for Opportunity awards was not raised.
My understanding is that this particular award relates to the collection of equalities data. Whatever your view of the Council's current performance, the Committee will only be able to drive up standards by referring to reliable and challenging data.
The Council Equalities Team have put a tremendous amount of work into improving internal data collection and analysis. I have no problem with this work being recognised through nomination for an award.
I don't feel that objecting to Council Officers receiving legitimate praise for their hard work is the right way to address ongoing grievances about an Employment Tribunal. The Officers who put in the hard work to collect this data had nothing at all to do with that Tribunal.
I think it would be far more constructive for us to acknowledge the good work of those particular Officers and focus on using this data to improve the Council's performance on Equalities issues, as per my Review. The new Committee has an important role to play in this and we made an encouraging start last night, challenging Officers in a constructive but robust way.’
I believe I am on record as saying this before, but it is worth repeating, that I welcome Michael Pavey’s openness in actually replying to serious points put to him (unlike his colleague, the Leader of the Council). We do not agree on everything, but I have confirmed to Cllr. Pavey that I know there are many officers at the Council who do an excellent job (even though they have been let down by some very senior ones!). My open letter was not all criticism, but in reply to Cllr. Pavey’s response above, I have reminded him that its key message was that the Equalites Committee (and Brent Council generally) needs to acknowledge and deal with the “negatives”, as well as celebrating the “positives”.