Brighton and Hove’s gay community should have a dedicated policy officer, the local council’s review panel has recommended.

The Equalities and Review Panel at Brighton and Hove City Council tasked with reviewing the way the local authority treats its diverse groups concluded yesterday that a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) policy officer should be appointed along with an update of the LGBT community strategy.

The findings were published in a document titles, Vital Challenges

To Meet For The Future,’ it recommended that the council “takes urgent steps to improve the diversity of the workforce” and “provides greater support to its employees against victimisation and bullying.

Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Elgood, who chaired the panel, said: “The Review was established to specifically provide fresh impetus on equalities.

“A series of issues have been raised with us and we have proposed pro-active ways forward to help meet these needs. The council must now be open to a culture change to enable it to become the champion of all residents, employees and visitors of this city.

“What we often found was that the intentions were good, but in practice this wasn’t trickling down through all areas of the authority’s work. There are resource issues which

also need to be addressed to properly enshrine the principals of equality

at the heart of the council and its work.

“There is good work going on, and we do not want to undervalue that, and part of our recommendations look at building on this.

“However, I have to say that the evidence we took was so serious in nature that we cannot underestimate the need to implement the recommendations we are making in this report.

Council leader Labour councillor Simon Burgess, said: “We must work hard to ensure that the City Council is a champion of fairness to all, the review gives us some vital challenges to meet for the future.”

Conservative councillor Ann Norman said: “The council’s decision to undertake an Equalities Policy Review has given a much needed opportunity to look again at the authority’s approach to equality issues and we must all commit to seeing that the findings of the Review are implemented to ensure equity across our many diverse

communities”

Green Party councillor Georgia Wrighton said: “I was especially pleased to be part of the Panel in its efforts to ‘fill in the gaps’ and establish further action the council can take to reflect the needs of communities of interest beyond broad actions and strategy.

“This work would not have been possible without the input we received from local representatives in the City who work tirelessly for their communities every day.”

The report will discussed at the City Council’s Equalities Forum on Monday 19th June 2006.

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