Criticism over lack of black candidates in Derby City Council election

Criticism over lack of black candidates in Derby City Council election

On the eve of the local elections on Thursday – postponed from last year because of the coronavirus pandemic – the Derby chair of Black Lives Matter group has criticised a lack of black candidates contesting 18 seats in the city.

According to Professor Cecile Wright, this is despite the production locally of Black community’s Manifesto: A Charter for Change last June, which was presented to politicians and representatives of the key local political groups, calling for change.

She said: “Local people have a say in electing councillors who will be making decisions regarding services.

“Yet, of all the candidates selected for the election, there is not a single candidate from the local black community. This is despite the presence of a large black community in Derby for over 70 years.”

Last June up to 2,000 people gathered outside the Council House in Derby to take part in rally to express concerns about inequality, discrimination, the lack of investment in and representation of the black community in key areas of the city including local government.

Support for the Black Lives Matter movement grew in response to the killing of George Floyd in the USA and the Derby rally saw the city’s black community develop a strategic plan of action through its manifesto.

Professor Wright said: “The manifesto drew attention to the lack of black representation in elected officers of Derby City Council and call upon the local political parties to take decisive action to address the issue. It is not the sole responsibility of black people to solve this issue.

“Derby City Council needs to make clear statements about how it intends to progress in a way which more equally benefits black people.

“Black people have contributed significantly to Derby’s economic and culture, but they are absent from decision making that affects them.

“The reality is that we need to see a positive change, which includes having representation of a wide group of people both within the council chamber and in senior positions influencing and shaping our services, and building a better future for all residents in the city.”

The manifesto called on the city’s political parties to:

* Publish a report showing a diversity comparison between councillors and the local population and list of actions to achieve change within six months

* Identify an equality and diversity lead to work with Black Lives Matter Derby

* Invest resources to equip people from black communities to take part in local politics

* Commission an independent equalities audit to review local party representation data

* Invest in Black Lives Matter Derby work to build democratic participation and mobilise the ‘Black vote’ locally

* Commit to considering all black shortlists to rectify absence of representation

* Pledge to focus on the root causes of black inequality in order to disrupt the cycle.

* Identify local black leadership potential and nurture people who can take leadership roles in the political sphere

* Pledge to focus on the root causes of black inequality in order to disrupt the cycle.

* Identify local black leadership potential and nurture people who can take leadership roles in the political sphere

(Source:Derby Telegraph)