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Local elections 2018: Conservative and Labour rivals agree on stamping out hate crime

PUBLISHED: 13:53 25 April 2018

Council leader Jas Athwal with Conservative group leader Paul Canal. Picture: JON KING

Council leader Jas Athwal with Conservative group leader Paul Canal. Picture: JON KING

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Two political rivals have agreed to stamp out the “evil” of hate crime in Redbridge.

Council leader Jas Athwal and Conservative candidate for Redbridge Council leader Paul Canal. Picture: JON KINGCouncil leader Jas Athwal and Conservative candidate for Redbridge Council leader Paul Canal. Picture: JON KING

Labour Party group leader Jas Athwal and his Conservative counterpart Paul Canal made the commitment during a public meeting at Trinity Catholic High School, Woodford Green, organised by community group Redbridge Citizens last night (April 24).

Two hundred people packed inside the school’s Ratcliffe Hall where Mr Athwal and Mr Canal heard a hate crime story shared by co-chairman and Al Noor Primary School headteacher Someera Butt.

Ms Butt told the two local election candidates – hoping to lead the council following elections on May 3 – the story of her former secretary who was attacked along with her children in a supermarket when a woman repeatedly rammed a trolley into them.

“The world has been transformed into a nasty, spiteful place,” Ms Butt said before calling on the pair to commit to starting a public hate crime campaign and introducing anti-hate crime teaching within six to 12 months if elected.

Mr Athwal described racist abuse aimed at him when walking the streets 30 years ago before he said the problem had crept back.

“We need to work together to eradicate this evil,” he said.

He added he had been shaken to his foundations after meeting victims of hate crime.

His rival said: “Everyone has a right to go about their business unimpeded. Hate crime is unacceptable.”

In a civil pre-election meeting, both politicians agreed to get anti-hate crime lessons in schools but stopped short of committing to the six to 12 month pledge with Mr Athwal vowing to doing it “as soon as possible” and Mr Canal committing himself to it as an aspiration.

The audience – including people from faith groups, the public and schoolchildren – also heard from Joy Hambleton from the Ilford branch of the Salvation Army who spoke of her struggle to look after her elderly mother full time and pay her rent.

On housing, Mr Canal said he would happily honour a council pledge to build 336 affordable homes every year while Mr Athwal fell short saying 1,000 affordable homes would be built over the next five years.

“We need to step up to meet our target,” he said.


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