Report of Town Clerk and Chief Executive
To Monthly Policy and Resources Committee
- Thursday, 11th February, 2010.
Matters For Decision.
1. Corporate Pricing Policy.
As part of Derry City Council’s duty under s75 of the Northern Ireland Act
1998 the Council’s current pricing policy had been subjected to the screening
process and was ‘screened in’ for equality impact assessment (EQIA). It
should be noted that this is an unwritten informal policy with different
approaches being taken for different facilities/services.
This policy was put out for consultation in 17th September 2009 with the
closing date for this consultation process being 20th November 2009.
There were no responses to the formal consultation process, however,
Council consulted widely when reviewing the Council’s current approach to
pricing. Information was also obtained from the Tour Operator and
Education Sectors, Cultural and Heritage facilities in Northern Ireland, and
the leisure departments within the Northern Ireland Councils.
Derry City Council also held an Equality Consultative Forum meeting
dedicated to the subject of developing a corporate pricing policy. Primary
research was also carried out on service users in two of the main leisure
As part of the EQIA process the following issues were considered in
developing the Corporate Pricing Strategy so as to better promote equality of
opportunity and improve resultant policy outcomes.
1. Council examined the variation in pricing schedules for choice based
activities and services depending on the Council facility selected. Based
on information received from officers working at the Council facilities in
question it would appear that the price differential is not attributable to a
geographical, or perceived profile of an area but rather on the
specification of resources, space and standard of equipment available in
each of the respective centres.
2. Council provides services to a population base with some of the highest
levels of deprivation across Northern Ireland and therefore the pricing
policy should reflect this characteristic in its pricing decisions.
3. The question was raised concerning the legality of having age-related
concessionary rates in light of the Age Discrimination legislation. Advice
was sought from the Equality Commission in terms of the Age
Discrimination legislation and its impact on the provision of age-related
concessionary rates. There is no legislation in place yet which covers
age discrimination in the provision of goods and services, however,
Council was directed to a recent consultation document issued by the
Government Equalities Office which relates to upcoming legislative
changes in this area. This document states the second draft legislation
was being prepared to make provision for certain exclusions including the
We will enable any service provider in the public or private
sector to use age as a criterion to determine the eligibility
for concessions or benefits, where the purpose of the
concession is to benefit the age group to which it applies.
4. The ‘means-tested benefit’ system of deciding on who could avail of
concessions, a system used by Belfast City Council, was not deemed to
be a fair and equal measurement. At the Equality Forum Meeting, one
group representing people with a learning disability highlighted that
approximately 90% of their members from low-income families and they
certainly would welcome concessionary rates. However another group
representing older people pointed out that this method was unfair to older
people who have perhaps worked all their lives and have saved some
money towards their old age and funeral expenses for themselves/partner
– the means tested benefit system would probably rule these people out.
The group also stated people in benefit system for a long time have no
difficulty in applying for concessions but pride is an issue for older people
when it comes to applying for discounted rates. Some older people view
it as degrading, the fact that they are unable to pay their way.
The Protestant community were also cited as one group who would be
most likely to suffer an adverse impact through this system given that
statistically the Catholic/Nationalist community experience more
unemployment and claim more benefits and would thus be more able to
avail of concessions.
On seeking advice from the Equality Commission on this matter it was
suggested that using the means-tested benefit system was acceptable.
The justification for this is similar to that concerning the age-related
concessionary rates. As Council are seeking to improve social
integration and participation for those who are less able to avail of
facilities and services and aim to target areas of social need, the
concessionary rates based on the means-tested benefit method is
deemed to be a reasonable measure.
5. The Council have been asked to give consideration to the extension of
concessionary rates to those who are significant carers whose presence
as a carer is essential to the attendance of the person with a disability.
In taking these points on board the following recommendations are now
presented for consideration:
Derry City Council should develop a formal written Corporate
Pricing Policy, which ensures an equitable and consistent
approach in terms of charges and concessionary rates across all
Derry City Council should take a consistent approach regarding
admission, membership and allocation of concessionary rates in
the Council’s leisure centres, out-door leisure facilities and other
‘choice’ services. Furthermore the Council should ensure that
similar rates of concession would apply to council-owned facilities
governed by management agreements.
Where there is a proposal to have a differential pricing structure
within a facility or service based on quality of services, location
etc., a robust argument must be presented to Council for approval
before the new pricing arrangements are implemented.
The Council should publicise the availability of concessionary rates
in all its facilities and in appropriate formats to ensure wider
uptake. The Council should also make direct contact with groups
representing relevant equality dimensions.
All relevant staff should be trained in the Council’s policy in relation
to the granting of concessionary rates in order to ensure sensitivity
and consistency of approach.
The Council should review its complaints procedure to ensure that
a mechanism is introduced whereby complaints associated with
pricing can be registered and monitored centrally.
A copy of the EQIA report in respect of the informal policy is attached at
Appendix A for Members consideration.
I await your comment and recommendations.
2. Disability in Local Councils Initiative.
Almost one in five persons of working-age are disabled in Northern Ireland,
however, in many areas of public, political and civic life, disabled people are
underrepresented. For example, in 2006 only 3% of public appointments
were people with disabilities.
The Disability in Local Councils Initiative, which has been established in
partnership with a number of organisations including the Equality
Commission for NI, Employers for Disability NI, SOLACE, Disability Action
and NIPSA, was launched on Tuesday 8 September 2009.
The initiative aims to encourage people with disabilities to participate in
public life through employment and to encourage a greater number of
disabled people to stand for election and contribute as elected members to
The initiative aims to promote greater disability equality in local government
and to create a network of disability champions throughout the local council
sector. These champions will have the role of actively promoting the agenda
of equality for people with disabilities, both in employment and in access to
It is anticipated that there will be two Disability Champions, one elected
member and one officer. Disability Champions will work closely with other
colleagues within the organization and in the community and responsibilities
1. To champion disability across the organization and in the Council
2. To display real interest and a desire to be kept appraised of
3. Attend and speak at key events in the organization and in the Council
4. Challenge other senior staff and elected members to promote the
values of the Disability in Local Councils initiative.
5. Act as a focus in the Council for:
Engagement with disabled staff and members of the community
Sharing best practice on reasonable adjustments
Driving positive actions
6. Promote the Council’s Disability Action Plan.
7 Attend development events organised for Disability Champions to
become further familiarised with the role of the Disability Champion.
8. Regular meetings with the other Disability Champions to:
Help mentor new Champions
Share good practice
Contribute to a steering group implementing the Disability Action
Develop case studies of good practice as appropriate
9. Understand and effectively represent priorities for the local
government sector in terms of disability equality.
10. Record and report back on issues and concerns to the Champions’
Network to help inform future progress and development.
11. Acting as the first point of contact for enquiries and providing advice,
guidance and support within the Council area.
12. Ensure articles are placed in newsletters/briefings.
Half-day training seminars have been arranged to provide information and
support for the Disability Champions, details are as follows;
Seminar Date Location
Effective 18th February 2010 Conference Room,
Consultation with Derry City Council
people with a offices
Training on the role 31st March 2010 Disability Action Office
of a Disability 58 Strand Road, Derry
The partnership organisations of the Disability in Local Councils Initiative
have requested that each Council put forward a nomination of an elected
member and an officer to represent their Council as a Disability Champions.
As the Equality Officer currently has responsibility for Council’s Disability
Action Plan, it is suggested that the Equality Officer should be nominated to
represent the Council in the role of Officer Disability Champion.
The nomination of an elected member to represent their Council as a
Disability Champion is now sought.
I await your comments and recommendations.
Matters For Information.
3. Performance of Invest NI.
The City Secretary and Solicitor has reported to me as follows:
‘ I refer to the Notice of Motion passed by Council at its meeting held on 27 th
October 2009 (Ref. C390/09).
As directed, I wrote to the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment
calling upon her to ensure that any future spending by invest NI was
distributed in an equitable and transparent manner, noting the criticism of
Invest NI reported in the Independent Review of Economic Policy.
I attach at Appendix B a copy of the Minister’s reply dated 27th December
2009, received on 6th January 2010.’
4. Consultation Documents.
I am in receipt of consultation papers on various subjects which are not
within the direct remit of Council. Details including the final date for
responses are set out in Appendix C.
5. Resolution from Ballymena Borough Council.
I have received resolution from Ballymena Borough Council which is
attached at Appendix D which, in accordance with Council policy, will be
treated as a matter for information to be noted and only discussed if the
majority of Members agree to such discussion.