Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Motion regarding community cohesion signed by Councillors Jackie, Smith, Matt Hartley, Denise Hyland, Tonia Ashikodi, Barbara Barwick, Geoff Brighty, Mandy Brinkhurst, Stephen Brain, Matt Clare, Angela Cornforth, Wynn Davies, Spencer Drury, Mark Elliott, John Fahy, Nuala Geary, Christine Grice, Mick Hayes, John Hills, Mark James, Mehboob Khan, Averil Lekau, Steve Offord, Maureen O'Mara, Paul Morrissey, Matthew Morrow, Cherry Parker and Miranda Williams

Decision:

Unanimously Resolved that;

Council is committed to ensuring that everyone in the Royal Borough of Greenwich can feel safe and proud of who they are, regardless of their background

Council is committed to bring together residents from all communities and all backgrounds, including through its #greenwichtogether campaign

Council unequivocally condemns all incidents of racism, xenophobia and hate crime in all its forms. Council reaffirms the commitment to supporting community cohesion in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and working with its partner organisations and other agencies to ensure that anyone experiencing any form of hate crime receives the support they need.

Minutes:

In moving the motion, Councillor Jackie Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment, stated that she had brought the motion forward as someone who had always stood up to racism.  Councillor Smith recounted that the Borough had, sadly, seen a number of racist incidents in the 1980s and 90s, however, the Council, Police, faith and community groups and voluntary organisations working together with the local community had tackled this and reduced hate crimes in the Borough.  Councillor Smith stated that one of the Borough’s strengths was its diversity and that communities lived harmoniously together.  It was stated that the recent spike in hate crime across the country was worrying and that every effort had to be made to ensure incidents did not occur in the Borough.

 

Councillor Smith noted that since the EU referendum, there had been a nationally reported increase in hate crime and, whilst it was too soon to tell if this was a trend, there was no time for complacency.  The Mayor of London had spoken out on this issue and stated that the addressing of hate crime would be a priority for the Metropolitan Police Service.

 

Councillor Smith concluded by quoting murdered MP Jo Cox, “we have far more in common than that which divides us” and urged all the Members to support the Motion.

 

Councillor Hartley seconded the motion, thanking Councillor J Smith for the opportunity to work with her on the wording but regretting its necessity.  He continued that the Council was speaking with one voice, that there was no room for racism, xenophobia or hate crime in the Borough.  The Greenwich Together campaign was welcomed and seen as a necessary response to the reported increase in hate crime in the Borough. 

 

Councillor Hartley stated that some bigoted people may have been emboldened by the outcome of the EU Referendum to use racist and xenophobic language and justify hate attacks.  This was not acceptable and the majority of people who voted Leave were horrified that racist and xenophobic incidents had increased and they condemned them. Councillor Hartley stated that anyone using racist, xenophobic language or perpetrated hate crime should be condemned and prosecuted.  

 

Councillor Hartley felt that Greenwich Together should also mean bringing the Borough back together after a divisive, on both sides, referendum campaign.

 

Councillor Hartley thanked Councillor O’Mara for organising an event in September 2016 for EU Citizens as a welcome step and one he hoped would reassure European Union citizens that they were valued residents of the Borough.  He concluded that whoever we were, wherever we were from, we were one Borough in one nation and that this cross-party motion was a message to anyone who would have it otherwise.

 

Councillor Lloyd spoke on the proposed motion, citing a personal incident recently and this highlighted the importance of all working together to make the Borough a tolerant and safe place for all residents.   He also praised the work of organisations such as Greenwich Inclusion Project (GrIP).

 

Councillor O’Mara also recounted a recent incident where she faced someone who feared that, as an EU citizen, she would no longer be welcome in the Borough or Country.  Councillor O’Mara stated that she hoped that the event for EU Citizens in September would be but one small step in reassuring them that they were part of and wanted in the Borough.

 

Councillor J Smith closed the debate by noting that all the Members had spoken from the heart and all Borough residents should feel reassured of the Council’s determination to promote community cohesion.

 

Unanimously Resolved

 

That this Council is committed to ensuring that everyone in the Royal Borough of Greenwich could feel safe and proud of who they were, regardless of their background

That this Council is committed to bringing together residents from all communities and all backgrounds, including through its #greenwichtogether campaign

That the Council unequivocally condemns all incidents of racism, xenophobia and hate crime in all its forms. Council reaffirms its commitment to supporting community cohesion in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and working with its partner organisations and other agencies to ensure that anyone experiencing any form of hate crime receives the support they need. 

 

Supporting documents: