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Greens renew call for BME representatives on city council’s powerful decision making committee

Repeated call  follows report stating need for more work on race inequality

Green Councillors have renewed their call for a representative from the black and minority ethnic community (BME) to be given a seat on a council decision making committee, after a report revealed that more must be done to support BME staff. 

A proposal from the Greens to offer a seat on the council’s powerful Policy and Resources committee to a BME community representative was agreed at a meeting of the committee in July this year. This was one of the many manifesto commitments on equality from the Green Councillors.

However Greens have today renewed their call, saying swifter progress must be made on race equality and inclusion in the council.

A report coming to a meeting of Policy and Resources committee today details the council’s plan for addressing issues with inclusion for BME staff. According to a council review in 2018 undertaken by external consultants ‘Global HPO,’ BME staff still face issues with internal promotion, career advancement and inconsistent application of policy and procedure.

Details of the 2018 Global HPO report review revealed that little had changed since the consultancy firm first uncovered issues as part of a 2013 review commissioned by the then Green council. 

Councillor Mac Cafferty, Green official opposition spokesperson for Policy and Resources committee, commented:

“Back in 2013 when the then Green Council first commissioned a report into race equality within the council’s workforce, we recognised that work was urgently needed to support our BME staff and improve representation. Almost 5 years later and the recent review shows there is still a long way to go. We welcome the news that the council is taking active steps to address these issues but the slow progress is unacceptable.

“When we spoke to our BME workers forum, they reported that the way other councils dealt with the under representation of the BME community was to have representation on key decisions. This was in part why we pushed for a BME rep on the Policy and Resources Committee in our manifesto. The reality is that our Council still does not look like the communities it serves. As Black History Month reminds us, Brighton and Hove’s diversity is one of its strengths but to push for lasting, genuine equality we all must continue to root out racism where we find it. Once again we ask the council to open the door to greater representation of our BME communities in our decision making.”

Councillor Hannah Clare, who put forward the proposal for a representative in July 2019, added:

“While we wholeheartedly welcome the steps the council is taking, along with the staff BME network – to address longstanding issues of race equality and inclusion among our workforce, we know that across all parts of society the voices of BME representatives too often go unheard.

“Policy and Resources committee is the most powerful on the council. It looks at everything from how our money is spent to agreeing the policy that this council makes on behalf of the city. 

“Offering a seat on this decision making body to a BME representative would be a positive step towards ensuring better representation and input on how decision making affects our communities. This was a promise made in the Green manifesto at the last election that many residents responded to really positively. 

“Asking for a co-optee doesn’t take away from other equalities work – it only serves to strengthen our approach, by welcoming more voices and asking for greater insights into the impact of the council’s decisions.”

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