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Actual equalities study, at last?

20 May: Just Space has responded to the document produced by the Mayor and still considers that the draft London Plan is unsound because the Public Sector Equalities Duty has not been discharged. Our submission is Just Space response to Panel Note 7.3 20 May 2019  There are no plans by the Panel for further discussion on this and we don’t yet know whether other participants have responded to Panel Note 7.

 

28 April:  As the draft London Plan Examination resumes for its final month of hearings, the GLA publishes its response to our day 1 challenge that they had not dealt properly with the Equality Duty. The panel of inspectors required the GLA to respond by 18th and the results were so big (160 pages) that they didn’t make it onto the web site until 23rd April. The history is in previous posts.

The response by GLA is partly legal argument but mostly the detailed discussion of how city hall expects each of its policy areas to impact (positively and negatively) on each of the 9 “equality” groups specified in the law. We have just 2 weeks to digest and comment on all this material and do urge member organisations to read and evaluate at least what is written in Appendix 3 about population groups or issues which specially concern them. The report is set out in 9 sections, corresponding to the 9 “equality groups”:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Then, within the section on each group, there is a discussion for each of the 11 chapters of the Plan. Thus it is very easy to navigate.

On a first inspection, this is a fascinating essay on the diversity of needs among Londoners. If it had existed 3 years ago the preparation of the London Plan would have been hugely enriched. It doesn’t deal explicitly with the social class dimension (because the government decided not to implement that segment of the Equalities Act) but class / income / wealth variables do figure strongly where that’s the available data or where there are strong overlaps between poverty and group experience of deprivation.

Appendix 4 responds, one-by-one, to the criticisms made by respondents.

The legal section, in the ‘cover report’ and Appendix 2, is a defence. This is a non-legal comment: the GLA contend that they carried out their obligations with an appropriate level of detail, that all the studies contributing to all the Mayor’s other strategies form part of the discharge of the obligations, that they can reasonably assume that other public bodies will do likewise (i.e. boroughs in applying policy?), that the Panel has no power to judge the legality of what was done. We look forward to legal expert opinion on all this.

The documents can all be downloaded:

NLP/EX/33 Covering report Mayor of London response to Panel Note 7.2: Cover Report (Mayor of London, Apr 2019)
NLP/EX/33a List of Strategies Mayor of London response to Panel Note 7.2: Appendix 1 Mayoral strategies (Mayor of London, Apr 2019)
NLP/EX/33b Legal cases cited Mayor of London response to Panel Note 7.2: Appendix 2 Legal note (Mayor of London, Apr 2019)
NLP/EX/33c Impact of polices on each ‘protected’ group Mayor of London response to Panel Note 7.2: Appendix 3 Summary (Mayor of London, Apr 2019)
NLP/EX/33d GLA responses to participants’ comments Mayor of London response to Panel Note 7.2: Appendix 4 Table of responses (Mayor of London, Apr 2019)

The Examination in Public resumes on Tuesday 30th April, starting with policies on Waste and the circular economy. The programme is at https://justspace.org.uk/hearings-eip-2019/#M68

Inspectors taking equality seriously

On March 12th 2019 the panel of inspectors examining the draft London Plan called on the Mayor/GLA to report urgently on the expected impacts of the Plan on each of the groups in society protected by law.

This follows the Just Space intervention on day 1 of the hearings in which the adequacy of the equalities impact assessment was challenged, the panel’s subsequent instruction that the unpublished details of the analysis should be released and the panel’s invitation for comments on that further material (see our previous post).

Today’s statement from the panel reads:

Equality of Opportunity and the Integrated Impact Assessment

The Panel has received the written statements made following the publication of additional information relating to the equalities impact assessment. As we noted in Panel Note 7 we have considered whether any further information or analysis is required to assist us in the examination of relevant matters in the context of the public sector equality duty.

To that end we request that the Mayor:

  • Responds to the written statements with particular reference to the case law cited and legal implications, the general points of principle raised about the approach of the equalities impact assessment, and the specific policies referred to; and
  • Provide brief separate outlines of the specific implications of the Plan (both positive and negative) for each of the 9 groups with protected characteristics.This should be submitted by midday on Thursday 18 April 2019.

Just Space will be reporting this development to its member groups at a briefing on wednesday afternoon 13th March:

flyer 13 march

Grave weaknesses in the London Plan

Today 25 February has been a momentous one for the London Plan, challenged for its entire approach to “affordable” housing and now described as ‘unlawful’ for failing to discharge the Mayor’s duties under the equalities act. Policies which discriminate against poor people, many ethnic groups, disabled people, women… are being air-brushed as positive or neutral.

A surprisingly wide range of organisations, ranging from Just Space, the London Tenants Federation and 35% Campaign to the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Highbury Group made independent critiques of the very weak “affordable” housing proposals in the draft Plan, proposals which would fail to meet even the needs identified by the Mayor —overwhelmingly for council housing (low-rent housing)— and would further boost an over-emphasis on housing which few Londoners can afford. Some details are in this afternoon’s tweets @JustSpace7 and a blog post will follow here.

Part of the challenge from Just Space is that the housing proposals fail to satisfy the GLA’s obligations under the Public Sector Equalities Duty. This failure is just one aspect of the systematic failure of the entire plan. After Just Space raised these issues on day 1 of the Examination, the panel of inspectors ordered the release by the GLA and Arups of supplementary tables which had been prepared but not published. These did appear and  participants were given until yesterday to comment. Just Space Written Statement 2019 Mayor’s Additional Equalities Evidence  is detailed and careful, concluding:

  1. The effect of the Mayor’s flawed approach has been to produce a Panglossian EqIA (as part of its IIA) which bleaches out any negative effects arising from the policies because it fails to ask the right questions, namely, what is the likely differential impact of X policy on persons with protected characteristics and to inquire after the right sort of information on which to base such an analysis.
  2. The Mayor, the Panel and the Secretary of State need to take into account equalities impacts prior to adopting the NLP. However, the flawed approach taken in the IIA is only underscored by the assessment tables which have now been published. These do not correct the deficiencies of the IIA and taken together, the total information provided does not come close to discharging the PSED. Were the plan to proceed on the basis of the current IIA it would do so unlawfully.

The Panel announced this evening that it would now read the submissions and give careful consideration to them. The GLA staff, asked to comment, said that they were satisfied that the IIA was a proportionate and robust exercise. “The Public Sector Equality Duty is at the heart of everything we do, every day.”

The panel’s response is awaited. When further submissions are available we’ll post the links. Later (9 March): six more submissions have been made and are available at https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/new-london-plan/examination-public-draft-new-london-plan/written-statements/supplementary-written-statement-matter-2  It is not yet clear when these will be discussed. Without exception these submissions reinforce the detailed statement from Just Space summarised here.

London Plan hearings blogged

The first 2 weeks of public hearings on the new London Plan have been held and Just Space offers a blog to help people follow the debates. It starts here.

This is the first time that London Plan hearings have ever been so easy to follow. Journalists rarely attend, there is no broadcasting except on a few days, and very few Londoners can afford to sit in City Hall for 35 days. We are very grateful to students at UCL who have been taking and editing notes.

If you prefer to have the full details you can follow the narrative listing page which has links to the individual blog posts for each item.

This is what we wrote when the hearings opened;

EiP begins with warning on discrimination

The Examination in Public (EiP) of the Mayor’s new London Plan began on Tuesday at City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, SE1 2AA.

In preparing our statements and evidence over the past year we have become increasingly alarmed for the future of London as an inclusive city. The new Plan wants significantly more market-led housing and intensification but it seems to ignore the effect it will have on a large chunk of London’s citizens. Just Space is challenging this at the EiP.

We believe the impact of the policies on vulnerable groups will be severe, for example in places where there is large-scale housing estate regeneration and dislocation.

The Mayor chose not to evaluate our alternative Plan developed over two years, Towards a Community-Led Plan for London. Our plan focuses the housing effort on meeting the backlog of low- and moderate-income needs, and prioritises the everyday economy, reducing the need to travel and improving the environment. GLA agreed that the decision not to compare our plan (and not to explore an alternative with extensive development of green belt which some had sought) was theirs, rather than their consultants’ (Arup).

Since Just Space started in 2006 our aim has been to get the many voices of grassroots Londoners heard in the formulation of planning policy, to make London a more environmentally sound and fairer city for all. This aim continues at the EiP.

On day 1 of the hearings a wide spectrum of organisations presented evidence which showed how badly the GLA had handled the impacts on women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and other segments of the population which Sadiq Khan says he is so concerned about. On day 2 the panel of inspectors announced that they would ask for further data on equalities impact to be provided by Monday 21st January and that participants would have until (15 a subsequently extended period till) midday 25 February to submit any resulting comments. The ” Supplementary Information on Equality Assessment” can now be found on the london,gov website as part of the EiP Library here.

Later: Just Space observations on the further submitted material (25 Feb) are here:Just Space Written Statement 2019 Mayor’s Additional Equalities Evidence

Follow the EiP Hearings here https://justspace.org.uk/hearings-eip-2019 where you will find the questions being asked by the Panel of inspectors, the Just Space analysis and proposals on each topic and the daily programme. We’ll add reports on what happens, if we have enough volunteers. Twitter @JustSpace7 as usual and #LondonPlan

Not a Plan for all Londoners

Tuesday 15 January sees not just a ‘meaningful vote’ in Parliament but the opening of hearings at City Hall on the draft new London Plan. In so many ways the Plan flies in the face of evidence and has avoided exploring the alternatives the city could follow. It looks bad but the panel of inspectors is now asking most of the right questions.

Just Space and the groups which make it up have been submitting their responses to the first weeks of questions posed for the Examination in Public. A new page on this web site puts the panel’s questions alongside our responses (in red) and the timetable: https://justspace.org.uk/hearings-eip-2019

That page will grow throughout the EiP process which stretches through to May 2019 and we’ll add other organisations’ statements and reports on the hearings if we get enough volunteers to cover 33 days.

Bookmark it as a unique resource.

Preparing…

The hearings (Examination in Public EiP) on the draft new London Plan start mid-January. Community groups are busy preparing.

Just Space (with some support from UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning) is holding a series of briefing and report-back meetings for community groups involved and for students and others following the process.  The first was on 26 November. Slides are here [ UCLJS briefing 26 Nov 2018.ppt] and a writeup will follow.

The next meeting is 5 December.  Details on our events page.

For more about the process, scroll down to previous post.

Preparing for the hearings: next steps

Stop press 7 Nov: presentations for the Technical Seminars 6 and 7 November are now available. Here you can also watch the webcasts of the seminars on both days. https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/planning/london-plan/new-london-plan/examination-public-draft-new-london-plan#Stub-175730

Our notes on 6 November (employment & household projections, housing need and demand, land supply) are here.  On 7 November (Zero Carbon and perhaps Waste to be added) here.

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