Weston Town Council pledges to be an anti-racist authority

Black Lives Matter demonstration. Picture: Nick Page Hayman

Black Lives Matter demonstration. Picture: Nick Page Hayman - Credit: Nick Page. Hayman.

Weston Town Council has pledged to be an anti-racist authority.

At its town council meeting on November 22, councillor Catherine Gibbons asked councillors to agree to pledge to become an anti-racist council.

The motion was carried forward unanimously, following some debate about the wording of the pledge.

Black Lives Matter demonstration on Weston seafront. Picture: Henry Woodsford

Black Lives Matter demonstration on Weston seafront. Picture: Henry Woodsford - Credit: Archant

Addressing the council was Nneka Opene from Black Lives Matter Weston, who explained to members some of the experiences of discrimination that black people living in Weston have experienced.

Cllr Gibbons explained that it is not enough to be non-racist but as a council, 'we must actively use our privilege and position as community leaders, to create a platform to challenge structural racism and inequality within the council and in the town'.

The council agreed to be committed to working on this for the long-term to bring about real and lasting change.

Its spokesman said: "For all people and guests to the town, the town council will listen and learn, enable ignored voices to be heard, remove barriers, and ensure opportunities are open to all, so people can live their lives free from discrimination and harm."

Protest at the Tropicana Saturday 6th June 1400hrs

Protest at the Tropicana Saturday 6th June 1400hrs - Credit: Nick Page. Hayman.

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Nneka said: “We are really pleased that Weston Town Council is putting its weight behind the fight against racism.

"The council took the opportunity to change the image of Weston to one that is welcoming, inclusive, where as a community we look out for one another.

"It is always better to stand out for the right reasons."

Town clerk Malcolm Nicholson said: “Weston Town Council recognises that racism continues to be a serious problem in the UK.

"The council stands unreservedly with black people in our town and is committed to actively combatting racism in all its forms.”

Black Lives Matter demonstration. Picture: Nick Page Hayman

Black Lives Matter demonstration. Picture: Nick Page Hayman - Credit: Nick Page. Hayman.

Cllr Sarah Codling added: "I'm proud to second and speak in support of such a powerful and important motion, as it's an issue not just close to but deeply within my heart, both personally and professionally.

"My own observations are that while the town council has demonstrably gone beyond a pure compliance approach to its public sector equalities duties, there is more we could and should do.

"Institutional inequality is characterised by flawed systems, processes, cultures, attitudes and of course outcomes but all of these aspects are driven by and can be stripped away by each individual - everyone taking responsibility, constantly learning and challenging ourselves and others.

"I believe simply that as community leaders we must walk the talk and not merely state what we stand against but very clearly and unambiguously, state what we stand for and do so alongside all our communities.

"We want people to choose Weston as their home and enjoy the same rights we all value - to be safe and respected, able to live fully, fairly and freely, so let's do our bit and make a real difference."

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