Chelmsford's Lib Dem Councillors take a stand against racism

July 23, 2020 6:21 PM

Black lives matterAt a meeting of the whole Council at Chelmsford City Council on 22 July, Liberal Democrats voted for a motion to take a stand against racism.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr. Stephen Robinson, said, "Recent events show, sadly, that racism is still widespread and actions, not just words, are needed. The City Council is committed to being actively anti-racist and will encourage the rest of our community to act with us to ensure all residents of Chelmsford are afforded the same respect.

"This isn't something that 'only happens in other places'. Right here in Chelmsford we've heard some shocking stories recently. A former pupil of Chelmsford County High and Moulsham High went on the record recently to say that, from as young as seven, she can remember being picked on by fellow children, both physically and verbally. She said a group of girls used to try and 'suffocate' her at playtime too." (Read her story here.)

The City Council is putting in place an action plan and will report progress regularly to all councillors.

An amendment to remove many of the actual actions was tabled by the Conservative and Independent Groups but this was defeated by the Lib Dem majority. The motion was passed, but without the support of the Conservatives or four of the five Independent councillors.

This is the text of the motion:

Chelmsford City Council

(a) Acknowledges the recent protests concerning Black Lives Matter and that these do not represent isolated incidents.

(b) Notes that race hate recorded crime nationally has more than doubled in six years from 35,845 to 78,991 in 2018-19. In Essex in 2018-19 a total of 2,846 hate crime offences were reported.

(c) Believes that this indicates that discrimination exists across society including in Chelmsford, and the City Council should take action to reduce and hopefully eliminate it.

(d) Welcomes the fact that Chelmsford is becoming a more diverse city and values the contribution that BAME residents bring to our city but believes that there is much more to do to become a fully inclusive city for all our residents in order that they feel safe and thrive.

(e) Acknowledges the need to challenge ourselves as individuals and in our own organisation about the dangers of unconscious bias.

(f) Notes the Government's finding that the impact of COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people.

(g) Notes that the council has already begun a process to find out what our BAME residents experience on a day to day basis in the city.

(h) Welcomes the initiative of the council leadership to establish a "Meeting of Many Minds" group, inviting key members of the BAME community to discuss openly incidents and experiences of racial discrimination from first-hand experiences.

(i) Notes that this Council previously adopted a motion to stand against anti-semitism.

Chelmsford City Council resolves to

(a) Adopt the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims definition of Islamophobia, namely "Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness."

(b) Continue focus groups and meetings, so that we can find out more about how we support our diverse communities and what they expect from us, as Councillors and the City Council as a whole.

(c) Improve knowledge and understanding by using our museums, theatres, festivals and outside events to showcase the diversity of our city.

(d) Monitor the figures relating to hate crimes and action taken via the Community Safety Partnership.

(e) Support the work of the Working Group on Connectivity and Local Democracy to tackle discrimination, encourage participation and open up community discussion. It seems an appropriate forum for challenging our approach to all areas of potential discrimination, beginning with the role that we can play in tackling racism.

(f) Report back regularly to all councillors."