A SURVEY focusing on whether women feel safe in Inverclyde’s parks, paths, and cycleways will be launched - despite a lengthy council debate over whether it should also cover men and boys.

Independent councillor Lynne Quinn proposed a consultation on the matter after women had told her how they avoid certain areas when it gets dark and feel as though they need to change their behaviour to protect themselves.

Although elected members unanimously agreed to push ahead with the survey at a meeting this week, cross-party concerns were raised about the consultation potentially not encompassing the views of the wider community.

Councillors Ciano Rebecchi, Natasha Murphy, and Chris Curley all argued the local authority should be questioning everyone about safety, including LGBT groups and elderly people.

Councillor Murphy – who is part of the Labour group – said: “I want to say thank you to Lynne for bringing this to the council as I think this would help make Inverclyde safer for everyone.

“I do support what she is asking for, but I do think we need to look at community safety as a whole as we’ve got trans people getting attacked and vulnerable older people.

"I would like us to do a wider community review as well.”

LibDem Mr Rebecchi added: “Right now, it’s not just girls, we’re getting boys being badly attacked too.”

But Cllr Quinn insisted the survey would encourage a variety of women to come forward and argued the perception of safety was a 'gender-specific issue', so it was important the council collected data focusing on women.

Following the meeting, she said: “Everybody was getting their tuppence worth in this debate saying ‘what about boys?’ and ‘should this just be about women?’ and there were points raised about disabled people.

“But all types of women will engage with this consultation, including those who are disabled and those who are LGBT.

“This is a gender-specific issue that affects women, so we need gender-specific data on this.

“I don’t know why men seem to feel under threat when we talk about just women.

“I wanted to stick to my guns on this.

"It could’ve been changed but I didn’t want it to be diluted in any way.

"If we make places safer for women, they will be safer for everyone.”

The consultation will ask women and girls whether they perceive any safety impediment in using parks, paths and cycleways and, if so, how this could be addressed by the council.

Council chiefs will launch the survey and report the results back to the education and communities committee.