In 2017 London Borough of Sutton (LBS) paused its Equality Diversity Forum as it we felt that we needed to do things differently. The Forum had a declining membership and was based on a formal committee approach, meeting on a quarterly basis. Discussion with partners revealed that they wanted to focus on equality issues that they felt were important and meet as and when needed. Following discussions between Community Action Sutton and Sutton Council a Fairness Commission based on the Sutton Plan partnership was formed.
The Sutton Fairness Commission was comprised of partners including Community Action Sutton, Sutton CCG, Metropolitan Police Service, London Fire Brigade, Sutton College, Sutton Mencap, Sutton Council and residents.
In its first year the Fairness Commission chose to focus on the life chances of children in the borough and over the next year commissioners heard evidence on this subject. This work also included a focused series of events with young people, including a conference run by the young people themselves.
Finally a report was shared with the Council’s People Committee. The findings of the report were also important in shaping the Sutton Health and Care Plan and has led to the agreement to produce a borough wide plan for children and young people in Sutton.
Following the successful pilot stage the commissioners have agreed that the Sutton Fairness Commission should continue to focus on equality and diversity issues across the borough. The new terms of reference state that:
‘The Commission aspires to operate as a part of the equalities infrastructure for the wider public sector in Sutton. Ultimately the Commission aspires to become the main vehicle for scrutinising equality issues in Sutton.’
To this end the London Borough of Sutton recently agreed to permanently close the Equality and Diversity Forum and utilise the Fairness Commission as its main vehicle for delivering external equality and diversity duties.