On the 6th of July, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the Bromsgrove District Council voted in favour of creating a task group to investigate racial disparities within the council’s operations. This bold move from the Council comes off the back of the Black Lives Matter protests that have led many institutions around the world to review their practices and relationships with the black community.
The task force was the brainchild of Labour Councillor Harrison Rone-Clarke, who spoke to Worcestershire Transformed about his hopes for the working group.
- Why did you think it was important to set up a task group to investigate racial disparities within the council operations?
I thought it was important that we ensured any task group that we set up was more than just a talking shop and had the potential to enact real change. The district council is an employer as well as a local authority and it’s important that everything that it does has an anti-racist consideration.
- How will the task group work practically?
We want to include BAME individuals in the discussion, that’s why this was so important.
Leaving officers at the council, while they are fantastic, to deal with this without the input of BAME residents would potentially mean that we don’t get the whole picture. We have to work with the BAME community, not just legislate for them. A task group means that we can hear from the public and take them on this journey with us.
- Was there much opposition amongst councillors?
We struggled to reach a consensus on the right way forward but, when we did, it was accepted unanimously (and we didn’t have to water our proposal down).
- What do you hope the outcome of the task force will be?
I would hope that a permanent committee is set up, reporting to Council regularly to ensure that we are striving to constantly improve our processes and promote equality.
- Is this something that can be replicated by other councils?
Yes. I would plea to my Labour colleagues on other authorities to consider this in their own borough/district etc.