BCP Council meeting answers Green councillors' questions on Diversity and the Environment

16 July 2020

At the virtual meeting of BCP Council in July, both Cllr Simon Bull and Cllr Chris Rigby asked questions which received comprehensive replies.

Simon’s question was about the lack of diversity in the Council workforce at all levels, and was answered by the leader of the Council, Cllr Vikki Slade. She informed him that the Strategic Equalities Leadership Group is setting up a working group comprising representatives from a range of organisations to review this, and to monitor the results against the Equality and Diversity commitments held by the Council. They will look at the barriers to inclusivity and endeavour to celebrate diversity.

While she believes the recruitment procedures are robust and fair, they are not delivering a diverse workforce, and show a need to measure the data currently held. An Equalities Champion will be set up to represent minority groups, and a review of HR policies will include looking at the anonymity of personal data in recruitment.

Chris asked for an update on the Climate and Ecological Emergency Plan introduced a year ago. This was answered by Cllr Felicity Rice, who chairs this committee. BCP has been commended by many different organisations for its response to the crisis, particularly the Wessex Fields development for its focus on sustainable transport.

All Council projects now have to be assessed against sustainability, and there have been presentations to staff by the Al Gore Climate Reality team. Council buildings, street lights etc, are all now powered by Green Electricity, and plans for developing our own electricity in the long term are being looked at. Electric vehicle charging points have been installed at Council depots, and electric refuse collection vehicles and road sweepers are to be trialled.

The Council has engaged with schools and the Youth Parliament. A Council funded Beryl Bike scheme was introduced for staff, and a successful bid for £280,000 was awarded by the Government for the Travel Plan.

Members of staff working from home during the Coronavirus have completed a survey which will be used to consider different ways of working. Both a Citizens Assembly and a Community Engagement group, due to look at the same issues, have had to be postponed due to the lockdown. A full report will be issued in December.

A national survey has revealed that only 9% of the population want a return to the “old normal”, all the rest citing improved air quality, less commuting time and better wildlife conditions as reasons, so this crisis could offer an opportunity for positive change.

The full council meeting can be viewed on YouTube.

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