The Legal and Democratic Services Manager:
(a) Reported that the inaugural National Democracy Week would be held during the week commencing 2 July 2018 and would be themed on the Suffrage Centenary as the country celebrated two significant anniversaries of 100 years since women won the right to vote and 90 years since women won equal voting rights to men.
(b) Reported that an officer working group had initially met to consider ways in which the Council could engage with the anniversaries and had made the following suggestions:
· interview with the Portfolio Holder for Social Inclusion and Community Cohesion;
· interviews with female members of the Council and potential monthly features in the lead up to National Democracy Week;
· interview with Councillor Yvonne Bodger as the Council’s last female Mayor;
· interviews or an event with the Chief Executive and other leading women in the area;
· interview with the Member of Parliament for Lincoln.
(c) Suggested that the Council, through the Ethics and Engagement Committee, could host an event to tie in with these anniversaries and promote democratic participation in under-represented groups. The next meeting of the Committee was scheduled to be held on 2 July 2018, which was the start of National Democracy Week, so an event could be held in the afternoon prior to the meeting. The event could incorporate a debate on the subject of the two anniversaries or democracy in general, and could include representation from the University of Lincoln or other community groups.
(d) Highlighted the ‘Equaliteas’ events being held across the country between 18 June 2018 and 2 July 2018 which invited communities to share, debate and celebrate what equality meant to them.
(e) Invited members’ questions and comments.
Councillor Ellis, Chair of the Ethics and Engagement Committee, was keen for the Committee to support the proposed event on 2 July 2018 to raise awareness of equality and engagement and in celebration of the two anniversaries, together with supporting and promoting National Democracy Week.
Councillor Metcalfe, Leader of the Council, thought that the proposed event was an excellent idea with democratic engagement very much a part of this Committee’s remit adding that it was appropriate for the Council as the local democratic organisation in Lincoln to do something such as this.
Councillor Maxwell queried whether students at the University of Lincoln would still be in residence in the city on 2 July 2018 to take part in this proposed event. It was noted that, although the majority of students would depart in mid-June, a significant number of students stayed in Lincoln over the summer.
A suggestion was made to invite secondary schools and sixth forms to the event and the Chair made reference to a lack of engagement from schools in the lead-up to Local Democracy Week in October 2017 following invitations he had sent to every Head Teacher in the city. Councillor Tweddle felt that schools would respond better to personal invitations from local members who may still have links with schools and suggested that colleges and other further educational institutions in the city should also be invited to engage. She agreed to contact her local secondary school to inform them of the proposed event.
Councillor Hills recommended a local tea group run by ladies who he felt may provide a useful perspective to the event. He made the point, however, that men needed to feature or be involved as part of the event as well, otherwise there was a risk of indirect inequality which was the opposite of what was seeking to be celebrated.
The Legal and Democratic Services Manager requested the contact details of the tea group from Councillor Hills and agreed to re-circulate an email she had sent to the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee which provided a number of useful links to National Democracy Week and the ‘Equaliteas’ events. She would also recommend to the working group that interviews with men be carried out in order to balance the coverage, to include the Leader of the Council, the Leader of the Opposition and the Council’s Independent Person and Reserve Independent Person.
It was noted that an extraordinary meeting of the Committee may be necessary to confirm arrangements prior to 2 July 2018.
RESOLVED that the Ethics and Engagement Committee supports the proposed National Democracy Week event, in principle, and requests that any further suggestions be forwarded onto the Legal and Democratic Services Manager.