THE council will not be signing up to an LGBT equality index because it would cost too much.

That was the verdict of Malvern Hills councillors when they discussed a notice of motion to sign up the district council to the Stonewall LGBT Equality Index.

This would allow residents to compare the council to other employers on how they promote workplace equality.

However, council leader Sarah Rouse said she believed the council already does enough to be an equal workplace.

She said: "We have done a lot of work as a council and I think personally, looking at the Stonewall Index, that it costs around £6,000 per year to register annually.

"I believe that we do take diversity, equality and inclusivity seriously and I am not sure spending £6,000 to register for an index which has seen a lot of people leaving recently is the right way to do it."

Cllr Rouse was speaking on a notice of motion called by Cllr Kaleem Aksar, who called it an opportunity for the council to showcase its commitment to equality.

He said: "The core of the motion is primarily to use this as a way of setting an example as a council.

"It we participate in this scheme, we will be shown to be one of the best employers out there."

Cllr Aksar added that he did not think there was necessarily a problem with LGBT discrimination, but said it was a chance to highlight the work of the council in being inclusive.

His thoughts were echoed by Conservative councillor Jeremy Owenson, who said it would allow the council to more objectively judge itself.

He said: "I think of it in a similar way to a question put to me by Cllr Aksar about why our annual council meeting is held during Ramadan.

"No one had considered that - we wouldn't have a council meeting on Christmas Day, so sometimes we are not our best judge and in the capital budgets, we are projected to be heading for an underspend, so what is £6,000?"

Ultimately the council chose not to join the Stonewall Index.

After the meeting, Cllr Rouse said joining would tell them what they already know.

She added: "It was agreed by all councillors that MHDC has excellent equality, diversity and inclusion policies.

"Both Cllr Aksar and Cllr Owenson agreed there were no issues with staff or members.

"Stonewall has recently seen the Equality and Human Rights Commission, DVLA, the Ministry of Local Government and Ofgem leave their scheme due to costs.

"What we will do at MHDC is to continue to focus on inclusion for all. Something we all agreed we all do well."