27 October 2020. This evening a cross-party motion tackling racism and seeking to improve equality was passed by RBWM. Here are the key-note speeches from Cllrs McWilliams, Da Costa & Tisi
I am very proud that at the Council meeting on 27 October 2020, a pro-equality, anti-racsim motion was passed by a large majority.
The actions provisioned by the motion broadly include;
- Annual data reporting to an Overview & Scrutiny Panel, and pursuant action
- Education and training to cover officers, members, schools and the Borough
- Lobbying government and holding a best practise conference open to all.
Keynote speeches from the debate
Here is an extract of the discussion around the motion proposed by Cllr Ross McWilliams (Conservative), Seconded by Cllr Wisdom Da Costa (WWRA) and supported by Cllr Amy Tisi (Liberal Democrats)
You can watch the full council meeting on YouTube at https://youtu.be/1jGtP4uB42U
Here’s Cllr Wisdom Da Costa’s speech in written form
The fight for justice and equality goes on from one generation to the next.
Today it is the turn of our generation and our council to push further back the boundaries of injustice & inequality.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Racism exists. Structural inequalities exist.
A rudimentary comparison of the ethnicities of councilors with ONS data for RBWM & surrounding councils indicates, amongst other things, that Black people are not just massively underrepresented at Council but, the situation is getting worse.
By the grace of the Mayor, this motion is being presented today, which is propitiously also the date that the Lawrence Report entitled, “An Avoidable Crisis” was published – led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence, mother of the late Stephen Lawrence.
The report calls for;
- The urgent need for action
- To tackle health inequalities
- Plug the gaps in data
- End structural racism through training, education, & engagement
In particular, the #Lawrencereport calls for;
- A Race Equality Strategy, developed with Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and with the confidence of all those it affects.
- A national strategy to tackle health inequalities
- Equality impact assessments to be used much more effectively to shape and inform policy, and policymakers to tackle structural racism with their decisions.
- The publication of ethnicity pay gaps to mirror gender pay gap reporting.
- Diversity of the school curriculum to ensure it includes Black British history, colonialism and Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade.
- A strategy with clear targets to close the attainment gap at every stage in a child’s development
I am proud of Cllrs McWilliams, Tisi, & Carroll, and our work in developing what I hope will be a pivotal motion towards equality and justice.
Working together, we have created something that already covers most of the key suggestions in the Lawrence Report, with the exception of the Equality impact assessment’s recommendation.
With this motion, we are taking action with a sense of urgency.
This motion will allow us to plug the data gaps, and identify issues, annually, including health inequalities, that need addressing.
Voting for this motion will help make great progress on ironing our structural racism through appropriate training, & education.
Together we will create a forum, a conference, where people can be listened to and, we can learn from each other.
But the process is as important as the outcome.
- It will be iterative with progress steered by a cross-party group.
- We will give people an opportunity to speak and be heard, most notably through a conference to be held in the Borough.
- We will reach out to experts and residents especially from the BAME communities to help us to reach high levels of attainment. Excellence.
Some of you may ask, where will the money come from?
Our enthusiastic officers, who have already done some work on the issues, tell me that we can “apply for external funding and S106 to be able to deliver the project and pay for some expertise and consultancy”
This is a chance to subtly change the structures within RBWM to help ensure that injustices do not happen.
To ensure that we are all working together; a social biodiversity with all the ensuing benefits.
Today we start work on tackling racism and, I challenge you to bring future motions to tackle EQIAs and other protected characteristics.
Please vote for this amended version which will include a slight adjustment to point ii to allow for greater flexibility to choose the correct types of mandatory training.
The appropriate sentence will read, “Introduce mandatory training such as unconscious bias training for councillors and officers,”
Mandatory training is about helping us to achieve consistent and excellent standards of decision making & actions.
I want to close with the words of Baroness Doreen Lawrence
- “If you make racism right, it’s right for everybody”
- “We are just looking for justice and equality. That is all we are asking for. Nothing more”
Please vote for this motion.
Cllr Wisdom Da Costa
- This post is part of the WWRA Councillors regular series of Blogs to inform and empower local residents; as promised in their election leaflet
- It is also to comply with clause v of the Members Code of Conduct which states, “You must be as open as possible about your decisions and actions and the decisions and actions of your authority and should be prepared to give reasons for those decisions and actions.”
- The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA).
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