District Council gives green light to diversity action
- Credit: Supplied by Ayub Khan
Uttlesford District Councillors have thrown their weight behind a statement of commitment and action on equality, inclusion and diversity across the region.
The initiative received cross-party support, in what council chair Martin Foley called “a very good moment in Uttlesford’s history”.
This means officers at UDC will plan events across the district to hear people’s experiences of racism and discrimination, and identify barriers for black and minority ethnic people. The events will be followed by a report to the council, and an independent committee monitor the council’s work.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Ayub Khan, the initiative’s “driving force” said he is pleased with the agreement. But he raised awareness of the fact that it took six weeks to discuss the motion and it was met with hostility by some council members. He said: “One member said ‘is this really a serious proposal or am I just dreaming? Sorry, but I could never put my name to such a document’”.
Green Cllr Barbara Light said there is a need for the council to tackle racism with the help of BME communities, students across the district and the Youth Council.
R4U Cllr Louise Pepper, Equalities portfolio holder, said the statement is welcome but was delayed in order to “get it right”.
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She said: “We will consider all inequalities of equal importance. We will allow each individual matter a separate platform. By generalising on issues of great importance it loses its rudimental meaning and it dilutes the underlining message: Black Lives Matter. We are one race; one planet; and it is our duty to protect both from extreme harm.”
R4U Cllr Garry LeCount said the original statement was “not acceptable” because “it missed a lot of points.” “All lives matter,” he added.
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Conservative Cllr Susan Barker said the statement is “excellent” but “doesn’t go far enough” to include people with mental health difficulties and hidden disabilities.
She said: “It’s not just one group in society that is discriminated against. I wouldn’t want to lose sight of those other groups while we pursue this very worthwhile thing. I am 40 percent deaf. It’s very isolating and difficult.”
But Lib Dem Cllr Geoffrey Sell said the intention of the proposal is to “keep it focused” and he spoke in recognition of BAME contributions to Stansted’s residential homes. “At Hargrave I see every day black British women walking up Chapel Hill to go to work. At the Mountfitchet, all the team leaders are from Romania.”