Argyll and Bute Council passes anti-racism motion

Black Lives Matter Oban show of solidarity in town earlier this year. Picture by Kieron Green.

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Argyll and Bute Council has passed an anti-racism motion to keep embracing diversity and challenge prejudice  and inequality.

It was an amended version of a first motion put forward in a ‘non-partisan manner’ by Independent Oban councillor Kieron Green and SNP councillor Julie McKenzie who had worked on its wording with Black Lives Matter Oban and 846Solidarity, a hub created for concerned community members to learn about and act for anti-racism.

Councillor McKenzie said although heartened the issue was raised and debated it was a disappointment to her that the original motion was not universally supported by all councillors. She said: ‘Issues of racism, hate and intolerance should transcend politics. Our motion was brought to the council from our local area, in collaboration with Black Lives Matter Oban, in a non-partisan manner, so it has obviously been a disappointment to me that it was not universally supported by all councillors.

‘On a more positive note it is heartening that the issue was raised and debated and hopefully now we find ourselves at a point where good work already done at Argyll and Bute Council can be built on. These conversations must continue and challenging the systemic injustices in our communities must remain a priority.’

The final version of the motion passed at the full council meeting on September 24 read: ‘Our communities are enriched with a diverse mix of people with a variety of experiences and from different cultures and backgrounds. This rich diversity enhances our lives.

‘Today more than 40 years after the 1976 Race Relations Act and 10 years from the 2010 Equalities Act, there are still incidents of hate crimes motivated by prejudice in our society.  This has been most recently highlighted by the Black Lives Matter, global campaign.

‘As individual councillors, we will always strive to promote community inclusion and cohesion, and support local initiatives and people addressing issues of inequality and prejudice.

‘Argyll and Bute Council will continue to work in promoting communities of respect that embrace diversity and challenge prejudice and inequality wherever it’s encountered, in all aspects of its operational work

‘In passing this motion, we will strengthen our resolve and commitment to make Argyll and Bute an inclusive place where people want to live.

Councillor Green said he was delighted the motion was passed and that there was recognition of the role that anti-racism groups like Black Lives Matter Oban have had this year in highlighting those issues.

‘The issues of inequality and the injustices faced by society are deeply entrenched and it’s going to require firm action from people to get movement on this.

‘It’s not enough not to be racist, you have to be anti-racist to tackle it.

‘It’s really good to see those groups working in the community. It’s only through education and greater understanding that society can move forward,’ he added.

A spokesperson for 846Solidarity said: ‘We were very pleased to work with Councillors Green and McKenzie on the motion they put forward and were glad of the conversation it sparked within the council.

‘While we are disappointed their motion did not pass, the amendment that was passed takes a strong stand for diversity, inclusion and against inequality and prejudice. We are happy about this step towards working to ensure that Argyll & Bute is a wonderful place for all to live, visit and work. We also know that this is only one step and will be continuing to work towards an Argyll & Bute that is strongly and proudly anti-racist.’