SIR, — In his letter on St Albans District Council s equalities work headlined Laugh or cry (Herts Advertiser, February 5), Mr Jack Phillips raises concerns about the value to council tax payers of the council s equalities activities. In a sense he s ri
SIR, - In his letter on St Albans District Council's equalities work headlined "Laugh or cry" (Herts Advertiser, February 5), Mr Jack Phillips raises concerns about the value to council tax payers of the council's equalities activities. In a sense he's right to do so.
To address some of the letter's points, all three mainstream political parties support equalities work in their individual ways. I support this work and all the staff who undertake it. Like many other councils, St Albans has had an equalities officer for 23 years, since 1986. This is not new work and I am concerned about what could appear to be attacks in the press on individual members of staff. If there are any such concerns they should be raised privately with me or one of my management team.
Having said that I would like to set out why the council is engaged in equalities work. There are three reasons:
Firstly the council is required by law to promote equality and must be able to demonstrate how it does so.
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Secondly it is ethically right. All council taxpayers deserve equality in service provision and opportunity because they pay for it. That means we as a council need to cater for the different needs of people as well as the similarities. The council's work will therefore address inequality relating to gender, disability, race, age, religion and sexuality. The event in question is part of a programme of activities focusing on issues relevant to each category in turn.
Finally, equalities makes economic sense. In these straightened times it is vital that the brains and energies of all the district's people are engaged in its promotion and sustainable development. Everyone has a contribution to make and it is important to listen and learn from them.
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The purpose of the council equality work is therefore to add value to the community through its services by doing what is lawful, right and sensible, applied sensitively in accordance with our district's needs. I'm grateful for the opportunity Mr Phillips has given me to describe it for your readers.
Chief Executive, St Albans District Council.