Agenda item

Special Item: Uniting our Communities

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Lib Peck, introduced the item and highlighted the need for such a debate following a rise in hate crime after the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. She further expressed Council’s sadness at the death of Jo Cox MP.

 

The Leader of the Opposition, Councillor Tim Briggs, gave the following statement:

 

Madame Mayor, many changes have taken place since our last meeting, one of which was the death of Jo Cox MP, whereby someone who was loved by many people, was tragically and unnecessarily taken from them.

 

I am aware that Jo Cox was especially committed to the rights of refugees particularly from Syria. I once wrote in a Lambeth Weekender article that how we treat people coming from abroad is a sign of our humanity as a society. Jo Cox clearly was committed to helping people from abroad, and it is desperately sad that she is now gone, and can no longer do that.

 

But we must distinguish between the sense of danger, and its reality. The sense of danger can get blown out of proportion to the randomness of a crime committed by an individual, and the sense of danger can also be blown out of proportion considering the unlikeliness of something so unpleasant ever happening again.

 

I understand from officers when I last asked a week or so ago that there have been no hate crime incidents in Lambeth targeted at minorities. I hope that is still true.

 

The result of Britain voting to leave the EU has also left people feeling vulnerable.

 

We are a very pro-EU borough, and a pro-EU city, so perhaps the shock was greater here than elsewhere. And Lambeth is so diverse, and we all enjoy that diversity so much, perhaps we allowed ourselves to forget about the bigger picture of people outside London.

 

I grew up outside London and I do not believe that the vast majority of people outside London are racist or anti-diversity (if I can put it that way) for one second.

 

So with regard to uniting our communities, let me say this on behalf of our Group and perhaps some other members.

 

Wherever you are from, wherever your parents or grandparents came from, whatever your sexuality, or religion, or whatever is important to you and your identity and your happiness, we are privileged to serve you as your representatives here in Lambeth.

 

The Conservative Group believe strongly that residents are not here to pay tax and support the council, but the council is here to support you, as best it can, in living your lives with as much freedom and opportunity as possible.

 

And within the work we do as Councillors, we will continue to adhere to the values of the Rule of Law, due process, and the protection of minorities that allow our Lambeth diversity to flourish.

 

And I am sure that is what Jo Cox would have wanted.”

 

Rabbi Janet Darley addressed Council and raised the following points:

 

·         There had been a change in public rhetoric within the past few weeks, and the result of the EU referendum had made many people feel they had permission from the country to act in a certain way;

·         Anecdotally, she had heard of an increase in Lambeth residents discussing hate crimes directed against them;

·         An emergency meeting had been held with Citizens UK Council, and many concerns had been raised;

·         Nonetheless there had been many successful multi-faith events held within the Borough;

·         The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had expressed interest in a Deputy Mayor for Integration.

 

Councillor Lib Peck further added that many people had felt so threatened by an increase in hate crimes because such instances go to the heart of what many in attendance feel about London as a multi-cultural and tolerant city. She gave her thanks to all citizens of south London, and to Rabbi Darley. She further added that she would discuss the prospect of a Deputy Mayor for Integration with the Mayor of London, and stated that he was personally passionate about a London for all Londoners.