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Joint statement on protests and improving engagement and representation

Statement from: Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Lily Bath, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing & Social Inclusion, Cllr Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Communities & Climate Change.

Published: Friday, 12th June 2020

Image of Cllr Steve Curran, Cllr Lily Bath and Cllr Katherine Dunne.

“We are extremely proud to serve one of London’s most diverse boroughs. Its broad range of ethnicities and cultures is a source of inspiration, pride and strength. This is reflected in the Council’s Cabinet and wider group of Members, more than half of which are from BAME backgrounds. We are also proud of how people in Hounslow get on together and are determined to make sure this remains the case.

“The Council stands against any form of discrimination, violence, racism and injustice, and we are clear there is no place for these things in Hounslow. We fully support people’s rights to protest and, last week, illuminated Hounslow House purple as a show of solidarity with ​black people in the US, the UK and around the world​ following the death of George Floyd.

“However, we know there is more to be done, and displays of support are far from enough in themselves. We must constantly challenge discrimination, injustice and division. As a Council we know we need to do more to improve engagement and representation of all groups – everyone must have a strong voice - and this week we approved a new Equalities Plan which lays out how we intend to do that.

“We’ve also launched an important piece of work to understand the impact of coronavirus and lockdown on our BAME communities, and explore how we can better support them through the growing economic impact.

“We understand why feelings are running so high at the moment. Londoners are right to be angry about the systemic racism black Londoners still face and we stand with the millions of people around the world who are saying loud and clear that Black Lives Matter.

“However, we urge people not to take to the streets to protest today or over the weekend. Coronavirus is still a very grave threat to all of our communities and we are at a crucial stage in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus. The protests over the past week have shown just how difficult it is to maintain social distancing in large crowds, and travelling to them on public transport. The risk of spreading the disease at a protest is very real. Also, it’s expected there will be far-right counter-protests aiming to provoke violence and distract and hijack this important issue. If you do protest, we advise you do this locally, keeping to social distancing guidelines.

“There are 22,500 people in Hounslow who were classed by the NHS as needing to be ‘shielded’ because they were at particular risk. Lives are still at stake. We must all play our part and be responsible to protect our vulnerable residents from coronavirus by controlling the spread.

“We support the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm to review the city's murals, street art, street names, statues and other memorials. We will fully participate in this review and take appropriate action when it is concluded.”

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