Local democracy during coronavirus

During coronavirus, we've made some changes to how we're running council meetings. See our coronavirus updates for more information on meetings and decisions.

Agenda item

Developing the Social Inclusion Working Group (SIWG)

This report introduces the paper: “Social Inclusion Working Group, Questions and Answers”. Its purpose is to give an overview of the purpose of the SIWG, its relationship to other bodies and how it can develop to achieve its purpose.


Members considered a report which provided an overview of the purpose of the Social Inclusion Working Group (SIWG) and its relationship to other bodies and invited them to discuss the way forward for effective development of the SIWG.  The Chair invited all those representatives of community forums who were present at the meeting to participate in the discussion.


To assist the discussion, the Equalities Officer had produced a “Questions and Answers” document, providing information on the purpose and membership of the Group, the type of issues it would discuss and how it could involve community representatives.  Members were advised that, as a Working Group, their role was to advise the Executive.  The Group had no powers to co-opt members or incur expenditure and must comply with the protocol on Councillor Working Groups (pages 369-371 of the Council’s Constitution).


During their discussion, Members and representatives raised concerns about the gender and ethnicity balance of the Group.  They were strongly in favour of appointing co-opted members, with voting rights, to the Group, although it was recognised that such appointments would have to be made by full Council.  The opinion was expressed that if the Constitution did not enable non-statutory co-optees to have voting rights, then it should be revised.  To ensure gender balance, there should be two co-optees from each representative group, even if this increased the membership to 20 or more.  Meetings should be facilitated by dividing into small “breakout” groups for initial discussions.  However, the results of these discussions must be reported back to the full meeting in order to comply with legal requirements for meetings and decisions to be transparent and publicly accessible.  It was agreed that further information was needed before deciding which community groups should be invited to nominate representatives / co-optees on behalf of younger people.


RESOLVED: (i)         That the Executive be advised that the Group wishes to co-opt two members to represent each of the following equality strands:

·        Disability

·        Ethnicity

·        Older people

·        Younger people

·        Faith groups

·        Sexual orientation.


(ii) That the Equalities Officer write to the following community groups inviting them to nominate representatives to attend future meetings of the Group, with a view to these representatives being appointed by Council as the co-opted members of the Group:

·        The Disabled People’s Forum (once it has been set up)

·        The BME Citizens’ Open Forum (ethnicity)

·        The Older People’s Assembly

·        The LGBT Forum (sexual orientation)

·        The Inter-Faith Forum (faith groups)


(iii) That the Equalities Officer report back to the Group with suggestions as to which organisations might best represent younger people.


(iv) That, until and unless the nominated representatives can be appointed by Council as co-opted voting members, the following voting procedures be applied:

a) When a proposal has been moved and seconded, the Chair will invite all Members and representatives present to vote on the proposal, in order to gauge the views of the group as a whole;

b) Group Members will then vote on the proposal and take the decision.


(v) That a report be requested from the Head of Civic, Democratic and Legal Services on how co-opted members can be appointed and involved in the Group’s work without breaching the Council’s Constitution or legal requirements.


(vi) That the next meeting be preceded by an informal session during which Members and representatives can discuss matters on the agenda, without reaching any decisions, before providing feedback on their discussions to the formal meeting, where decisions will be taken, and that further consideration be given to ways in which the informality of future meetings can be increased, subject to the requirements of the Constitution.


(vii) That consideration be given to the venue for future meetings, which should be both accessible and capable of accommodating a large group of people, and to the format of the minutes, which should also be made as accessible as possible.


(viii) That future meetings of the Group begin at 6pm, subject to review in the light of the wishes of Members and community group representatives.

Supporting documents:


Back to the top of the page