Steve Darling: We should not assume there is no racism here in Torbay
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The international debate on Black Lives Matter is something that I hope will ensure we all reflect on those who can end up excluded from our society.
The core strapline that unites the Independents and Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council is to turn the tide on poverty in Torbay and it is sobering that Covid-19 particularly hits those from deprived communities and those from ethnic minorities.
While Torbay's population, owing to its lack of ethnic minorities, tends to reflect that of the UK just after the Second World War, we should not assume there is no racism here.
In fact, for minorities in the Bay there can be an insidious hidden racism which may reveal itself during their interactions with others.
The imam at the Torbay Islamic Centre told us of his family being abused when walking in Torquay and fearing for his child's safety.
To me, the most important tool in tackling hidden racism is allowing space for people to share their experiences and views.
In the next few days, I and the chief executive of Torbay Council will be holding a virtual meeting that all staff from the local authority with an ethnic minority background will be invited to attend in order to discuss the problems that they may have faced.
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I hope this will give us as a council some ideas as to how we can contribute to tackling racism.
One of the ways that we can tackle racism within our community is by participating in events such as the Srebrenica Memorial Week, from July 5 to 12.
This is the 25th anniversary of the genocide, when more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered, simply because of their faith.
Since its creation in 2013, Remembering Srebrenica has educated 100,000 young people on the lessons from Srebrenica, organised close to 7,500 memorial events and activities right across the country and created 1,450 community champions who pledge to stand up to hatred and intolerance in their communities.
As the partnership who run Torbay Council we are looking into working with this organisation to learn from past horrors and to ensure that by commemorating such events we can root out intolerance in Torbay.
Last week, I held a virtual meeting with the team who support more than 700 young carers in Torbay.
These are young people who have a family member who may have a significant illness or disability which requires some form of caring in their day to day lives.
Radio 4 ran a piece on Sunday, June 14, that demonstrated the hard work of a 14-year-old girl who is supporting her father with his significant disabilities and yet is still having to cope with her school work.
This item was inspiring and I would encourage everyone to listen to Pick of the Week on Radio 4 to hear about this young hero.
Also last week, I, along with many other leaders of principal local authorities, received a letter from the Government asking for capital projects that are shovel ready and could boost employment.
A condition of this is they have to be completed within 18 months of submission.
These need to be fed through and ranked by the Heart of the South West local enterprise partnership.
While the Government has not told us how large the pot of cash is that we are bidding for I am pleased that the Government appears to be wishing to stimulate the economy by bringing forward capital investment.
At the local enterprise partnership meeting, where the principles around the ranking of the schemes were being discussed, I sought and received assurances that a significant part of the ranking would take into account those areas which are hardest hit by the economic downturn.
Sadly, Torbay, with its dependence on the hospitality and tourism industry, is likely to be one of those places most affected.