A pledge to tackle racism was agreed by Thanet councillors last night (December 10) and will now go forward to Cabinet members for consideration.
The anti-racism motion was put forward by Broadstairs member Cllr Aram Rawf, asking that: “Thanet council notes the mood for change amongst the community to defeat racism. In recent months Thanet has seen two peaceful, socially distanced, community led marches in support of the cause of anti-racism.
“The council also notes that:
- Nationally there has been a surge in hate crimes since July 2016
- The council understands the importance and deep reliance we have on tourism to support the health of the local economy.
“This council believes that our future prosperity as a tourist destination is inextricably linked with our ability to stamp out the scourge of racism. This council further believes that we have a historic opportunity to shape the area into one that is attractive to all sectors of our diverse community and the wider country.”
Thanet council is likely to set up a task force and could work with local groups such as Calling Time on Racism, the People Dem Collective and Everyday Racism.
The majority of councillors voted in favour of debating and adopting the motion, there were some Conservative abstentions and a vote against by a handful of Thanet Independent Group members based, said group leader Stuart Piper, on the process used to bring the motion and a lack of relevant documents.
Speaking in favour of the move, council deputy leader Helen Whitehead highlighted that yesterday was Human Rights Day and added: “This council and administration are fully committed to tackling racism in whatever form, and in whatever context.
“We have a moral and legal duty to protect all of our citizens, and a specific moral and legal duty to protect individuals with protected characteristics as specified by the Equality Act 2010.”
She added: “The number of racially aggravated offences reported in Thanet stood at 213 in 2018. In 2019 169 offences were reported, and the last figures for the first half of this year stand at 61.
“However, one offence is too many, and offences alone do not reflect the day to day experiences of communities, and their confidence and belief in the systems that are here to support them. As such, this is an endeavour that is ongoing, and continued work and development in this area is vital.
“As is often the case, the best understanding of situations comes from the community. As a council we work with and alongside many community organisations, and we fully recognise the commitment and strength of all groups that provide support to tackle racism and strengthen our communities, both in diversity and understanding.”
Cllr Whitehead said the council would look at how working groups could be used to promote anti racism and support the wider community, including the business community, to do the same.
She added: “Racism is something that you have to live with to fully understand. Many of us in this Chamber will never experience it, and we must recognise our privilege in that, and fully consider the impact of racism, and how extraordinarily painful it must be for those who do experience it.
“But the ripple effect of racism affects all of us. If one member of our society is hurt, we are all hurt. If members of our community are not secure, and not confident in our ability to protect and champion them, then we are all weakened. If our diversity as a community is not celebrated, then our world is smaller and less rich because of it. For us to be strong as a society we need to support all members, all communities, and strengthen our understanding of each other and each other’s needs.”
Cllr Steve Albon also supported the move, giving an emotional account of the impact of racism on his granddaughter and great-granddaughter.
Describing racism and its impact as “abhorrent” and lifelong, he added: “I urge all members to fully support this motion and to insist we continue our fight against racism which is a sore on our community and a sore on our country. We should value every person no matter how different we all are.”
Cllr Piper said he did not oppose the motion but was raising a point of order.
He said: “The council was not allowed to vote and decide whether or not to adopt the motion. The motion stood referred to Cabinet because, they said, it involved an Executive Decision.
“The Members were allowed to discuss it but not vote. That was precisely why I brought the Point of Order. Those of us who opposed the debate did so, not because we disagreed with stamping out racism in all its forms, but because we were being disenfranchised.
“The Members, under the rules should have had the right to debate and even bring amendments and arrive at a solid understanding of what the motion was asking the council to do. The democratic process was abused last night largely because people were frightened of having a proper discussion for fear of being branded a racist.
“The subject and the people of Thanet deserved so much better from the elected members and senior officials and they didn’t get it. Now they are going to fudge what they have, not least because controlling what businesses do, for example, is outside their remit and we cannot change our duties under the Equalities Act 2010 because it is national legislation.”
Thanet council is already required by law to tackle racism and all discrimination of individuals with protected characteristics as under the Equality Act 2010.
Protected characteristics under the act include discrimination on the basis of age, sex, disability, race, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or belief and pregnancy and maternity.
More endless drivel being used to pass a motion that in turn willbe used to channel cash and resorces to “ worthy causes” , it’ll do nothing to change the attitudes within some of the communities these groups insist they are protecting/ helping. Improving the standards of education attainment would do far more good in thanet, especially in the deprived areas. Add in a bit off real integration and you’d make much greater in roads, but as it stands we have pockets where the communities within them have no interest in integrating or changing their ways and this subsequently leads to interactions that areseen as discriminatory. Its very much a two way street, but all we seem to get is acknowledgement of the incidents that further the “cause”.
“Improving the standards of educational attainment” and ” real integration”. These sound good to me . So why the grumbling attitude?
The Council has passed a good motion, a statement of intent.
I don’t doubt that the councillors who voted for this motion also believe in “improving the standards of educational attainment” etc. And would also vote for real integration as well.
But these things are not helped by blaming the victims of racism for their situation.
We only have to look around the country to see how people of very recent immigrant origin or descent are to be found at all levels of society,in all walks of life and happily speaking local versions of English or Welsh etc.
All in just a few decades.
It took a lot longer for the Angles and Saxons to successfully integrate with each other, let alone with the native British! And the process was a whole lot nastier!
So we can’t really grumble about the speed of integration of new arrivals, unless we WANT to have a grumble, of course.
Racists are bullies, and bullies are low grade people who want to make the lives of others as miserable as they are! They have low self esteem, so think they can pick on someone else who is different. Yes, there are some people who find it hard to integrate into British society, but who’s fault is that when they are made unwelcome, and have to put up with day to day racism, and prejudice? Racism is just plain stupid, as are racists!
Great news but can you now put the same effort and energy into cleaning the streets and emptying the bins as everywhere is filthy?
Excellent news, righting a wrong which had shamed our Council, unique in previously voting against curbs on racism