‘There is no place for hate here’: Redbridge Council to launch equalities pledge on Holocaust Memorial Day

Redbridge Mayor Cllr Gurdial Bhamra laying a wreath at Valentines Park Holocaust Memorial Garden. Ph

Redbridge Mayor Cllr Gurdial Bhamra laying a wreath at Valentines Park Holocaust Memorial Garden. Photo: Ann-Marie Abbasah - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council is set to formally adopt an equality pledge on Holocaust Memorial Day 2020 as part of an initiative aimed at making the borough a fairer place to live.

Redbridge is the third most diverse borough in London, with its population changing from 63.5pc white in 2001 to 65.5pc black and ethnic minorities by 2014.

An equality pledge is a public commitment by an individual or organisation to further equality and diversity through its actions.

These can be a personal or behavioural pledge from an individual.

These could also be corporate commitments from organisations, such as delivering training, raising the profile of diversity, hosting a celebration or awareness event, reviewing recruitment, introducing a new procedure to promote diversity, or putting in place a relevant diversity target.

There are, according to the motion passed at a full council meeting on Thursday, January 16, eight protected characteristics.

These are: Age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation

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The council hopes that adoption of the pledge will play a key role in ensuring that these groups, andothers, are treated equally, fairly and without any bias.

Leader of Redbridge Conservatives, councillor Linda Huggett, was the first member to speak on the pledge at the meeting.

She told the assembled councillors: "I would like to say that Redbridge Conservatives wholeheartedly support the adoption of the Redridge Equalities Pledge.

"We are opposed to all forms of hate crime and supported the introduction of the hate crime pledge in 2018 which is mentioned in this report."

Cllr Huggett went on to describe it as "a travesty" if any Redbridge councillors or MPs failed to honour the pledge.

Council leader councillor Jas Athwal said that everyone involved in local government had a duty to stand against discrimination in any form.

He told the meeting: "We sign this pledge wholeheartedly, and we will be asking everybody who wants to work with this council to subscribe to this.

"There is no place for hate here, and that's why we must reaffirm our belief - whether it's antisemitism, whether it's Islamophobia, whether it's homophobia, anything - we stand united, we stand shoulder to shoulder to make sure that stand up and we don't stay silent.

"So that one day, when they come for us, there is still somebody there who will speak for us."

Deputy Leader Cllr Kam Rai added: "This pledge is about making sure that everyone that works with us or wants to work with us or engage with us shares our values.

"It's not enough to call out bigotry and prejudice just when it affects us, that's not enough.

"I think true equality and true friendship is not being a bystander, it's recognising actually your own biases and working on them, and accepting that there isn't actually a hierarchy in bigotry.

"We as politicians, first of all, should be making sure that we call out the problems in our own parties, and that means every party."

Councillor Howard Berlin also used the debate at the meeting to pay tribute to 25-year-old council employee Yusuf Patel, whose work as a community engagement coordinator at Redbridge Council saw him awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours list.

Mr Patel was the author of the report before councillors on the equalities pledge.

The pledge was approved by all councillors, which means the council will formally sign up to it on Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27.

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