A package of immediate action to make Brighton & Hove a fairer and more inclusive city has been announced as part of the council’s commitment to become an anti-racist council.
A report to councillors at a special meeting of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture committee on Wednesday 29 July set out a range of measures the council is taking, and how we will work in partnership with Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) residents and communities to shape our anti-racism strategy.
The action comes in response to the Black Lives Matter protests in the city in June and July, which saw more than 10,000 people take to the streets, and follows concern about the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on some BME communities.
Feedback from residents helped shape the initial series of actions in the report, as below:
- to reach out to and work with BME communities to create and deliver an anti-racism strategy, shaped by their lived experience and diverse perspectives
- to focus on supporting BME businesses through council procurement and encouraging local support
- to work collectively with other public bodies, especially the police, on challenging each other to improve diversity and eradicate racism in our organisations
- to work with BME communities and groups to agree our approach to different statues, plaques and street names; removing some, retaining some and erecting educational information boards and/or walks and commissioning new celebrations which fully reflect the city’s values and population
- to make sure a BME resident sits on the council’s main decision-making committee (Policy & Resources)
- to create and deliver a BME civic leadership programme to increase the number of BME people as councillors, NHS Board members, trustees of voluntary sector organisations, governors of schools, and magistrates
- to resource BME groups to have stronger voices and influence – a fund for BME community groups was launched earlier this month
- to work with parents and carers from BME backgrounds who have children or young people with special educational needs or disabilities to ensure council services meet their needs
- to work with BME school staff on an action plan for staff training, recruitment and retention of and support for BME staff, support for BME pupils and decolonisation of the curriculum
- to educate councillors and officers on white privilege, on language when talking about ethnicity and race, and structural racism
- to relaunch the council’s internal ‘We Need to Talk About Race’ campaign, paused due to the outbreak of Covid-19
- to provide specialist equalities training to council staff undertaking HR investigations into allegations of racism
- to undertake diverse recruitment campaigns and continue to engage with BME community groups to overcome barriers to employment
Councillor Steph Powell, joint chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture committee, said: “When it comes to showing that Brighton & Hove is an anti-racist city, and an anti-racist council, we know actions will speak much louder than words.
“This summer’s incredible Black Lives Matter protests powerfully demonstrated how much more needs to happen for Brighton & Hove to affirm its status as a welcoming and diverse city.
“BME communities have been clear that action taken so far has not led to the change we all need to see, for a fairer, more equal society.
“The launch of the council’s anti-racist strategy and recent BME communities fund are only some of the ways we can set out the council’s own commitments to change.
“From recruitment, to representation, to school curriculums, education and our engagement with BME communities, the city council has an important role to play as advocates for anti-racism work across our city and while this is just the start, our aim is for the strategy to outline what happens next.
“As new joint chair of the Tourism Equalities Communities & Culture committee, I want to stress that this work should not be viewed as a passing moment in time – this is about deconstructing old systems and working to root out racism wherever we find it.
“I look forward to being able to develop the strategy and to further liaison with communities across our city on this important work.”
Councillor Carmen Appich, opposition spokesperson on the committee, said: “We acknowledge that it is not enough to be non-racist and we must actively use our privilege, position as community leaders and platforms to challenge structural racism and injustice within the council and in the city.
“I look forward to working with the new administration to achieve the goal of becoming an anti-racist city.”