Board of Sheffield equality group 'paused' while comments made about transgender community are investigated

The board of a Sheffield equality group and its meetings have been ‘paused’ while a senior councillor investigates a grievance issue concerning comments made about the transgender community.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 12th December 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Friday, 13th December 2019, 2:56 pm

The Equality Hub is one of seven hubs in the city which give diverse communities a voice and receive council funding.

But the Equality Hub has been paused by its chairman, Deputy Council Leader Terry Fox, following an issue with the Women’s Hub over comments made about the trans community.

Coun Fox said a complaint had been made but when he started to investigate, he found the board had no formal structure or procedures to deal with grievance issues.

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Coun Terry Fox

He said: “We had a speaker who had very polarised views and there was an issue between the Equality Hub and the Women’s Hub.

“The council oversees the hubs and funds them but I discovered there was a very loose constitution, it was very out of date and the board didn’t have the procedures or policies to address issues, allegations and grievances.

“We have decided to look at how the board operates and agree some procedures. There are some ongoing issues and we need to ensure the board has the necessary tools to deal with these.”

In an email, Coun Fox said the grievance “has highlighted a number of serious concerns” and there was an “unfair level of expectation” placed on volunteers.

A review will start by the end of January 2020 and will last no more than six months with the involvement of board and hub members.

In his email, Coun Fox says: “In light of the review, all Equality Hub activities - board, hub meetings and events - is paused with immediate effect.

“Please be assured that the existing funding arrangements for support organisations will continue during the review period.

“We do not wish to see voice and influence work stopped during this time and are happy Hub members to continue to meet informally should they wish, but formal Hub meetings will not take place.

“We thank you for your patience and look forward to working together to ensure diverse communities continue to have a strong voice in the city.”