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YMCA & Local Authority

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#21 Post by Alan H » January 3rd, 2008, 10:22 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Ted

Excellent post!
Ted Harvey wrote:If an organisation insists in putting, say, ‘Christian’ in their title, and then wants to undertake delivery of public services I hold that the organisation’s motives can be immediately viewed with suspicion.
Any idea of how many do use the word Christian in their title when delivering these kinds of services? Many may not, of course, and they are perhaps more insidious because of their possible anonymity.
Public services are intended to be accessible to all, in the widest meaning. Why should secularists, Muslim or Jewish adherents be required to seek or accept a public service being delivered by people who are so ‘faith-based’ as to insist on proclaiming it in their title when delivering the service?
Of course, some may want to loudly proclaim that they are a 'faith' organisation. Which is worse: a religious organisation whose title at least warns potential users of where they are coming from or one that hides behind a name?
My understanding on the inability of a Local Authority to divest itself of its legal obligations is clear – an Authority cannot avoid statutory obligations by sub-contracting or agency deals.
I would hope this is so, but it is probably waiting to be challenged in the courts!
There is also the abject statutory compensation mess that Scottish Local Government has finally gotten itself into over non-equal pay for its female employees over many decades. It is hardly an endorsement of the fitness of the individual Local Authorities on any equalities watchdog role.
Absolutely. It is a severe indictment of them that this mess is still waiting to be resolved.
The clients that many public services are delivered to are vulnerable, isolated and under-informed on their rights. It is likely that in some situations, the recipients of public services delivered through agencies such as ‘faith groups’, and therefore at ‘arms length’ from the Local Authority, will not even be aware that these are public services provided for by the Local Authority.
...and in fact this may be seen by users and others to be a failing of local council's responsibilities and one that a religious group has 'had' to do because of this.
There is also, in my experience, an enduring perspective among many of those in public service that if an organisation is religious, there can be an automatic and favourable presumption that it is ethical, transparent and well-governed.
Excellent point that I had not thought of. Presumably most of these organisations will be charities and have responsibilities to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, but, if they are part of a larger religious organisation, it may be difficult to see exactly what's going on.
I myself have been present at formal meetings in Scotland on public services where I have witnessed a cosy, to say the least, familiarity between Local Government officials and councillors and representatives of representatives of the mainstream organised religions. Indeed at almost all of these meetings at some point the convenor (usually a local councillor) will say something like ‘and now I think we should hear what Father X (or Minister X) might want to say on the matter.’
Of course, the meenister must have his (or occasionally, her) say!
It is a matter of critical integrity that public services are seen to be accessible to all eligible recipients on the basis of transparency and equity. The motives of any organisation that insists on proclaiming a particular ‘faith’ adherence in its title whilst purporting to deliver services on such a basis can be, I believe, held suspect.
Couldn't agree more!

One thing I came across a few days ago was a consultation from OSCR from a year or so ago about how religious charities describe themselves on documentation, leaflets, etc. I think the proposal was that they must be unequivocal about stating that they were religious, but I'll try to find out what the outcome was.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Ted Harvey
Posts: 172
Joined: September 10th, 2007, 4:41 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#22 Post by Ted Harvey » January 4th, 2008, 6:44 pm

By extraordinary coincidence I’ve come across an immediate verification of where I asserted:
There is also, in my experience, an enduring perspective among many of those in public service that if an organisation is religious, there can be an automatic and favourable presumption that it is ethical, transparent and well-governed.
I was today doing a preliminary scan of a UK Government consultation paper for a briefing I will be presenting (on a non-related theme). In the report it is stated;
The Government recognizes that faith communities contribute to social and community cohesion through the values and activities that underpin good citizenship, such as altruism, respect for others, ethical behaviour and community solidarity
Note that the assumption is absolute, with no qualification or condition. In other words, not some faith based communities, or that they can contribute to the laudable values and activities, or that they can sometimes contribute to them… Just a plain vanilla presumption that faith based communities do make this contribution. Moreover, one could extend this to read the statement as saying, in effect, that all faith based communities make this contribution.

In a Scottish context, I just wonder, for example, how the diatribes that emanate from a certain senior RC leading clergyman on gay people equates with ‘respect for others, ethical behaviour and community solidarity. Or I wonder what the Strathclyde police view might be on ‘respect’ and ‘community solidarity’, in view of the resources they have to employ to ‘manage’ the activities of many ‘faith communities’ adherents who show up at Orange or Hibernian walks

The document is published by English Minister for Communities Hazel Blears and the Local Government Association (England). It is called ‘Empowering Communities – An Action Plan’ (see page 32)

What is especially worrying for secularists, is that the document is the current basis of a national consultation process in England to help shape the Government’s empowering communities programme across all England. I’m also uncomfortable about the appearance of Stalinist-type re-calibration of terminology i.e. in the context of a Government consultation on communities, faith-based organisations are somehow translated into faith based communities.

Alan on you point about how many organisations use ‘Christian’ in their title as part of the service provision activities – I’m afraid I do not know (and I’ll wager that there is no public source of such collated information). I acknowledge your point about the pros and cons of being open about these things. I think I’ll rest on my case that if you proclaim such a wording in your organisation’s title whilst at the same time undertaking public service provision, I think there is a case to be answered – by both the organisation, and the public sector tender-awarding authority... all very newly, and conveniently, compatible perhaps?

kenhayes
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Joined: December 31st, 2007, 9:01 am

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#23 Post by kenhayes » January 9th, 2008, 5:31 pm

I hope this thread isn't dead, having had no new post for four days.

I'd like to get the views of previous posters (and any other newcomers like me!) on the likely outcome if we (i.e. Lancashire Secular Humanists) formally complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission about Wyre BC's YMCA contract.

The EHRC (its website says) “enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act”. The commission aims to “target key equality battlegrounds”, including the making of “a comprehensive assessment of public service fulfilment of the positive duties…”

Previous posts from Tubataxidriver and Ted Harvey seem to suggest Wyre may indeed be breaching the legislation. Ian Abbott is unconvinced - he tells us religious organisations are exempt from employment practices which a local authority itself would be prohibited from adopting.

Further contributions on that issue could help us assess whether an EHRC complaint would be worthwhile, but could we also expand consideration of the legalities beyond employment terms?

For instance, isn’t the appearance of a big YMCA logo above the entrances of Wyre’s four sports and leisure centres (Fleetwood, Garstang, Thornton, Poulton-le-Fylde) a deterrent to potential users of other faiths or none? If so, isn't that a discriminatory act by Wyre BC, bearing in mind that (as the contract terms show) it approved the re-branding.

Isn’t it also an act of discrimination when a council gives nearly £300,000 of public money (the YMCA’s estimated first-year management fee) to an organisation publicly committed to one religion - and makes nothing available to others? What is the EHRC view likely to be on that?

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Alan H
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Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#24 Post by Alan H » January 9th, 2008, 9:22 pm

kenhayes wrote:For instance, isn’t the appearance of a big YMCA logo above the entrances of Wyre’s four sports and leisure centres (Fleetwood, Garstang, Thornton, Poulton-le-Fylde) a deterrent to potential users of other faiths or none?
I think it's more likely to make them burst into a song and dance routine...

Seriously, you're right, of course - it's inexcusable to discriminate in this way. I've no idea if the exemptions cover this and I would have to believe what Ian says. However, the only way to really find out may be to get some authoritative legal advice and perhaps even test the law. Alternatively, the ACAS website may be another good source, but it seems to be down at the moment.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Ted Harvey
Posts: 172
Joined: September 10th, 2007, 4:41 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#25 Post by Ted Harvey » January 9th, 2008, 9:56 pm

Ken you prompt me to clarify that my clear understanding is that a local authority failing to meet standards of equality and non-discrimination is legally responsible for the consequences... however the position of 'faith based' organsiations is much more protected and difficult to challenge. This continued exlusion of 'faith based' organisations from civilised standards of equality is one of the lesser publicised legacies of Tony Blair; you might remember him as the prime minister that took us to more wars than any other and is the only one so far to be interviewed formally by the police in pursuance of a corruption enquiry.

tubataxidriver
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Joined: August 3rd, 2007, 10:39 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#26 Post by tubataxidriver » January 10th, 2008, 3:13 pm

Yes, I confirm that my view is that the LA will need to comply even though the YMCA might claim a religious get-out and be protected. The angel of attack should be on the LA, and they should not be able to dodge their responsibilities in favour of the YMCA.

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Alan H
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Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#27 Post by Alan H » January 10th, 2008, 4:19 pm

tubataxidriver wrote:The angel of attack...
Freudian slip there...!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

kenhayes
Posts: 33
Joined: December 31st, 2007, 9:01 am

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#28 Post by kenhayes » January 10th, 2008, 7:06 pm

After Alan H's divine(!) song and dance routine, tubataxidriver's angelic post...this thread goes from bad to worse.

All three most recent posts encourage me to think an EHRC complaint by Lancashire Secular Humanists would be worthwhile...many thanks. We are meeting next week, with Ian in the chair, so I hope we'll be able to take it further then.

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Alan H
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Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#29 Post by Alan H » January 10th, 2008, 10:52 pm

One excellent source of knowledge is Hanne Stinson of the BHA. She was on the group that helped set up the CEHR and contributed much to the various committees looking into the equality legislation. Have you contacted her?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Ian Abbott
Posts: 145
Joined: December 4th, 2007, 3:23 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#30 Post by Ian Abbott » January 11th, 2008, 8:13 am

Alan, I haven't contacted Hanne about this specific issue but I will correct that oversight today ... thanks.

Good plug for our meeting Ken.

For those within striking distance of Great Eccleston (near Preston) we have a guest speaker... Susie Vane-Tempest from Dignity in Dying ... Meet at 7:30pm Wed 16th Jan (for tea/coffee etc); talk begins at 8pm with time for Q&A after.
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.

Ted Harvey
Posts: 172
Joined: September 10th, 2007, 4:41 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#31 Post by Ted Harvey » January 21st, 2008, 2:17 pm

Ian if you're still following this, you might want to see my posting in this forum, "An evangelical zealot gets a public Equalities post?!?".

Presumably this evangelical who wanted gays excluded, could in his new public Equalities post be dealing with complaints about the likes of the YMCA/public services scenario that you have experienced... what an insidious situation!

Ian Abbott
Posts: 145
Joined: December 4th, 2007, 3:23 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#32 Post by Ian Abbott » January 21st, 2008, 7:32 pm

I’ve been watching the ‘newly appointed Evangelical Christian now on Equality Board’ develop on the NSS site for a while now. It truly beggars belief.
We’re still pecking away at the YMCA managing a Public Facility problem.
I copied my letter of complaint to the local papers and they ran the story, predictably skewing the facts, but it got people talking about the issue and generated a lively thread on the papers on-line comment-on-this-story blog.
I still only received vague platitudinous reassurances from the Council along the lines of ‘they trust the YMCA’ but still no direct answers to specific questions.
One of the weekly papers ran a ‘reader’s poll’ asking ‘Should the YMCA be allowed to run local pools?’
The result came back this week 55% “Yes” – 44% “No”.
Another letter has gone off to the Council (& again copied to local newspapers) reiterating the original, and still unanswered, questions and highlighting the result of the poll which, although unscientific, mirrors exactly the results of recent (more serious) polls which consistently show 40% to 48% of the population are not religious.
We don’t expect too much but will continue to kick up a fuss for a while yet.
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.

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Alan H
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Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#33 Post by Alan H » January 21st, 2008, 8:16 pm

See the item included in today's MediaScan from The Times
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

thomas0123
Posts: 5
Joined: August 10th, 2008, 11:14 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#34 Post by thomas0123 » August 10th, 2008, 11:35 pm

I am not a Christian and can’t remember the last time I went to a church yet I am truly disgusted with you over your attitude over the YMCA. You should be ashamed of yourself you and your organisation have no interest in people and no knowledge of the YMCA. Try being 15 yrs old homeless in London in the 80s 14 months on the streets raped once only thing going on in your mind is how best to kill yourself. Only people to help were the YMCA gave you food, shelter, someone to talk to and in the end a life, didn’t ask if you are a Christian or gay or anything. I know the only reason I am alive today is because of the YMCA and I am not the only one. I know you are going to say you have nothing against the YMCA it’s just about council funding them which you object to. I going to respond quite simply I don’t give a monkeys this is a purely good organisation and people who object to them should look at their own morals and ask do they measure up?

Maria Mac
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Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#35 Post by Maria Mac » August 11th, 2008, 12:31 am

Welcome, Thomas. :wave:

I hope you feel better for having got that off your chest and that you will take a few moments to introduce yourself properly in the Reception forum.
thomas0123 wrote:You should be ashamed of yourself you and your organisation have no interest in people and no knowledge of the YMCA.
I presume this is addressed to the author of the opening post and that you must know him personally as well as having personal experience of Lancashire Secular Humanists to have made this ad hominem?
thomas0123 wrote:Try being 15 yrs old homeless in London in the 80s 14 months on the streets raped once only thing going on in your mind is how best to kill yourself. Only people to help were the YMCA gave you food, shelter, someone to talk to and in the end a life, didn’t ask if you are a Christian or gay or anything. I know the only reason I am alive today is because of the YMCA and I am not the only one. I know you are going to say you have nothing against the YMCA it’s just about council funding them which you object to.
I think you have slightly missed the point of the opening post. If I may quote the most relevant parts of the OP
Ian Abbott wrote:concerning Wyre Borough Council's handing over of part of their leisure services to the YMCA.

(snip)

WBC is constrained by various equal opportunities legislation which (quite properly) prevents their employees suffering discrimination based on gender, sexuality, religion, race or lifestyle.
Not so with a religious organisation! They have special dispensations under these laws whereby they can discriminate should they be able to argue that ‘not to do so would run contrary to their religious ethos’.

(snip)

I don’t want my local authority to condone or support any organisation, engaged in supplying a public service, discriminating among employees who are (in every other regard) living perfectly lawful lives but whose life-choices run contrary to the Christian ethos of the YMCA. I personally don’t want to (even tacitly) support religiously engendered discrimination. By virtue of the fact that all members of the local community who avail themselves of the facilities (now supplied by the YMCA) are thereby involuntarily supporting the YMCA.
(My emphasis). You seem to be saying, Thomas, that because the YMCA helped you and others like you, you don't care if they are discriminatory in their employment practices. Is that what you really think?
thomas0123 wrote:people who object to them should look at their own morals and ask do they measure up?
As humanists, that's what we do all the time. In fact, it's precisely because we are opposed to discrimination on religious grounds that we would object to an organisation like the YMCA being given such power that Wyre Borough Council is giving the YMCA. As Ian stated quite clearly, they don't have to abide by the equal opportunities legislation that exists to protect everyone, regardless of what they believe.

Hope that clarifies. :smile:

Maria Mac
Site Admin
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#36 Post by Maria Mac » August 11th, 2008, 12:31 am

Welcome, Thomas. :wave:

I hope you feel better for having got that off your chest and that you will take a few moments to introduce yourself properly in the Reception forum.
thomas0123 wrote:You should be ashamed of yourself you and your organisation have no interest in people and no knowledge of the YMCA.
I presume this is addressed to the author of the opening post and that you must know him personally as well as having personal experience of Lancashire Secular Humanists to have made this ad hominem?
thomas0123 wrote:Try being 15 yrs old homeless in London in the 80s 14 months on the streets raped once only thing going on in your mind is how best to kill yourself. Only people to help were the YMCA gave you food, shelter, someone to talk to and in the end a life, didn’t ask if you are a Christian or gay or anything. I know the only reason I am alive today is because of the YMCA and I am not the only one. I know you are going to say you have nothing against the YMCA it’s just about council funding them which you object to.
I think you have slightly missed the point of the opening post. If I may quote the most relevant parts of the OP
Ian Abbott wrote:concerning Wyre Borough Council's handing over of part of their leisure services to the YMCA.

(snip)

WBC is constrained by various equal opportunities legislation which (quite properly) prevents their employees suffering discrimination based on gender, sexuality, religion, race or lifestyle.
Not so with a religious organisation! They have special dispensations under these laws whereby they can discriminate should they be able to argue that ‘not to do so would run contrary to their religious ethos’.

(snip)

I don’t want my local authority to condone or support any organisation, engaged in supplying a public service, discriminating among employees who are (in every other regard) living perfectly lawful lives but whose life-choices run contrary to the Christian ethos of the YMCA. I personally don’t want to (even tacitly) support religiously engendered discrimination. By virtue of the fact that all members of the local community who avail themselves of the facilities (now supplied by the YMCA) are thereby involuntarily supporting the YMCA.
(My emphasis). You seem to be saying, Thomas, that because the YMCA helped you and others like you, you don't care if they are discriminatory in their employment practices. Is that what you really think?
thomas0123 wrote:people who object to them should look at their own morals and ask do they measure up?
As humanists, that's what we do all the time. In fact, it's precisely because we are opposed to discrimination on religious (or any other) grounds that we would object to an organisation like the YMCA being given such power that Wyre Borough Council is giving them. As Ian stated quite clearly, they don't have to abide by the equal opportunities legislation that exists to protect everyone, regardless of what they believe.

Hope that clarifies. :smile:

Moonbeam
Posts: 617
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Re: YMCA & Local Authority

#37 Post by Moonbeam » August 19th, 2008, 10:28 am

thomas0123 wrote:I am not a Christian and can’t remember the last time I went to a church
Good job you're not applying for a job with the YMCA then. :D

Was that a drive-by or are you going to come back and engage some more?

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