Town council blazes trail with government lobbying for BAME groups

PUBLISHED: 17:22 15 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:25 15 July 2020

Councillor Heather Asker, mayor of Saffron Walden Town Council, will write to the UK government about the council's motion. Picture: Celia Bartlett.

Councillor Heather Asker, mayor of Saffron Walden Town Council, will write to the UK government about the council's motion. Picture: Celia Bartlett.

Copyright © 2016 Celia Bartlett Photography

Saffron Walden Town Council is believed to be the first out of 10,000 local councils in England to lobby the UK government to take action on black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) lives, a councillor has said.

Green Party Councillor Trilby Roberts put forward the motion to support BAME people. Picture: Dr. Rick Wylie.Green Party Councillor Trilby Roberts put forward the motion to support BAME people. Picture: Dr. Rick Wylie.

The full council meeting on Monday, July 13, gave unanimous backing for a motion to support BAME communities.

Cllr Heather Asker, mayor of Saffron Walden, will write to the government this week, including to Saffron Walden MP Kemi Badenoch, who is also Minister for Equalities.

Cllr Jonathon Toy will ensure, when the paper goes to government, that the motion tackles institutional and societal injustices. “Unconscious bias is such a core factor,” he said.

But previous town mayor, Cllr Arthur Coote, said that what is more important is having black people on the town council. “I don’t think our middle-aged people have the slightest idea of what the black community feels,” he added.

Samantha Naik sent a BLM petition to MP Kemi Badenoch last month. Photo: Supplied by Samantha Naik.Samantha Naik sent a BLM petition to MP Kemi Badenoch last month. Photo: Supplied by Samantha Naik.

The motion, proposed by councillor Trilby Roberts, called out the “continuing inequality and mistreatment of BAME people” and asked for support for the Black Lives Matter movement and Windrush scandal victims.

Cllr Roberts told the meeting: “There are 10,000 [local] councils in England. We can be a leader in taking strong action and support BLM.”

Samantha Naik, a BAME woman who lives in Newport, said: “A few months ago, Terry Ralph racially abused a woman in Saffron Walden. That woman could have been me. When I read this in the Reporter, I was tearful. How did those children feel seeing their mother abused?

“For me as a BAME woman, racism is a matter of life and death. I personally experienced racial abuse and it really hurts. By saying Black Lives Matter, you are saying my life matters to you just as much as it means to me. Racism is also a covert issue.”

Cllr Asker replied to Ms Naik, saying she was “extremely sorry” this happened and that the council “supports the BLM philosophy”.

Cllr Daniel Brett of Stansted Parish Council said he had personal experience of racism and street abuse together with his Asian wife and mixed race son.

The motion, excluding the amendments from Cllr Toy, can be found here.


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