Agenda item

Future funding of an events programme

This report outlines the overarching priorities underpinning the future delivery of a programme of activities that are inclusive to all which have been developed following recent consultation. It also sets out options for the council’s funding for the delivery of a programme of activities for the borough within the current financial constraints.

Decision:

(i)         that in the light of the council's equalities responsibilities, delivery of any cultural/faith based events cease from April 2012 and a reduced programme be delivered;

 

(ii)        that during this transition year 2011/12 officers look to support the delivery of a realistic programme of work within the budget available to include:

 

·         Festival of Light celebration combined with Fireworks Night on 5 November

·         Eid

·         Navratri grant

·         Festive Lights (tree dressing)

·         Chanukah

·         Holocaust Memorial Day

·         St Patrick’s Day

·         St George’s Day

 

(iii)       that it be noted that the delivery of certain major events will not be able to take place due to insufficient time to programme any large scale events and the necessary recruitment of specialist staff;

 

(iv)       that the commitment to providing advice and support for local community groups to stage a broad range of celebratory events be endorsed;

 

(v)        that the priorities underpinning any future delivery of an inclusive events programme be noted.

Minutes:

The report from the Director of Customer and Community Engagement outlined priorities underpinning the future delivery of an events programme and also options for funding within the current financial constraints. Members of the Hindu Council were present at the meeting but waived the right to speak. The Lead Member, Customers and Citizens, Councillor Jones, reminded the Executive of the outcome of the consultation exercise carried out earlier in the year, the concern that faith and cultural events were not seen to be inclusive and for the council to meet its obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Before members were proposals for a festivals and events programme from September 2011 and Councillor Jones recommended that this programme cease from April 2012. She recognised that some organisations relied on council funding but emphasised the need for the council to make legal and rational decisions. It was hoped that council officers would be able to give advice to organisations in making their own arrangements. The Chair, Councillor John, reiterated that funding for events would continue in the current year and set out the events that would receive council funding, acknowledging that some aspects of the programme in previous years may change.

 

Councillor Lorber (Leader of the Opposition) referred to the diverse nature of his ward and to the many festivals that had been celebrated over the years. He challenged the description of the events as religious and stated that they were inclusive, inviting the whole community and gave an opportunity to improve relations. Councillor Lorber asked for details of the equalities concerns referred to earlier in the meeting and questioned whether other events could also be affected such as Black History Month and Fireworks Night.  He also felt that the matter should be raised at Full Council. Councillor HB Patel reminded the Executive that religious and cultural events had been celebrated for many years, that this was a diverse borough and that there was no clear evidence that they were not valued.

 

Councillor John in response referred to the new responsibilities placed on local authorities under the Equality Act, guidance on which was published in April this year and which required a new approach. She drew attention to the microsite and appendices to the report which contained the Equality Impact Assessment and audit carried out. Councillor John stated that it was recognised that some groups were relying on receiving funding in the current year and consequently it was being recommended that financial support be given for the interim and the funding cease with effect from April 2012. A realistic programme from September would be supported within the time and staffing resources available and Councillor John again listed the events that the council would help to fund which included Fireworks Night for health and safety reasons.

 

Councillor Powney (Lead Member, Environment and Neighbourhoods) also referred to the new responsibilities under the Equality Act which he felt were significantly different. He stated that some evidence from the consultation indicated that people did not view the religious events as inclusive but community specific. There was no suggestion that they cease but only to no longer be council funded. There was nothing to prevent members of the council from putting a motion to full council should they wish for further debate.

 

The Executive agreed the proposals as moved by Councillor John.

 

RESOLVED:-

 

(i)         that in the light of the council's equalities responsibilities, delivery of any cultural/faith based events cease from April 2012 and a reduced programme be delivered;

 

(ii)        that during this transition year 2011/12 officers look to support the delivery of a realistic programme of work within the budget available to include:

 

·         Festival of Light celebration combined with Fireworks Night on 5 November

·         Eid

·         Navratri grant

·         Festive Lights (tree dressing)

·         Chanukah

·         Holocaust Memorial Day

·         St Patrick’s Day

·         St George’s Day

 

(iii)       that it be noted that the delivery of certain major events would not be able to take place due to insufficient time to programme any large scale events and the necessary recruitment of specialist staff;

 

(iv)       that the commitment to providing advice and support for local community groups to stage a broad range of celebratory events be endorsed;

 

(v)        that the priorities underpinning any future delivery of an inclusive events programme be noted.

Supporting documents: