Equal Opportunities

Progressing the Equal Opportunities agenda was a priority for the Left who gained power in 1984. On some aspects progress had already been made by the previous administration, but there was a lot further to go. Consultations took place with groups oppressed on the basis of race, gender, sexuality and disability, but setting up the committee and staffing structures was by no means simple. This chapter covers the initial steps and the difficulties encountered.
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Differing Opinions on Equal Opportunities
Progress with Equal Opportunities Prior to 1984
Identifying and Consulting with Oppressed Groups
Establishing the Committee Structure and Early Changes
Staffing and Structure of the Equal Opportunities Unit
The Importance of Childcare
Adoption of Policy
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Editorial Comments

This chapter has had a second edit, after I’d finished the four chapters in the Building a World Class City section. Mostly the editing has been typographical and layout, but a few sentences have been split up and altered where they were too long. The sub-headings have been altered in some cases from the previous version. There were no sections with these titles in the original.


[1] The women in the right-wing grouping were Pat Conquest (wife of Gordon), Alison Kelly (wife of Leo), Sally Shaw (who really had more in common with the women on the Left) and Winnie Smith.

[2] Paul Fairweather and Ian Wilmott were two of those elected. Paul worked at the gay centre and was later appointed as one of the officers in the Equal Opportunities Unit; Both later became councillors – Ian in a by-election in 2001 and Paul in 2002.

[3] Editor’s note. I feel this needs more explanation but don’t have any information to go on. Have left it in as perhaps it will trigger a memory for someone who knows more about it.

[4] The local press were also hostile to the measures being pursued on equality for women and black people. The phrase ‘loony lefties’ was regularly bandied about and scathing articles were written about non-sexist, non-racist ‘politically correct’ language. This was happening nationally as well.

[5] Carol Ainscow and Peter Dalton opened Mantos in 1986/87 – the first bar proclaiming ‘proud to be gay’

[6] In 1986, Manchester became the first Council to develop an AIDS policy – to ensure that staff or members of the public with AIDS were not discriminated against. The policy became a model for other local authorities.

[7] With Sally Shaw as Chair. Although allied with the right-wing grouping in the battles of the 1980s, she was politically closer to the Left and very strong on Equal Opportunities. The Deputy on the Sub-committee was a community representative – Mohammed Azad. Azad was thought to be untrustworthy and always seeking to further his own interests, rather than those of the Asian community, but he had enough support to get elected on to the Committee for many years.

[8] The appointment panel was Val Stevens, Marilyn Taylor, Nilofar Siddiqi and Penny Boothman.

[9] This had on it representatives from voluntary organisations involved in play schemes – including the Manchester Adventure Play Association (MAPA).

[10] Benchill – Ronni Myers, Burnage – Marilyn Taylor, Rusholme- John Nicholson.

[11] Editor’s note. I feel this needs an improved summing up paragraph rather than ending on the note about pubs and drinking culture. But this is how it ended.

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Further Reading

Back to the Community – Disability Equality, Rights and Inclusion

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