Council take stance on xenophobia and hate crime

Wednesday August 17th 2016

Midlothian Council yesterday unanimously voted to support a motion condemning xenophobia and hate crime and reaffirming the council’s support for diversity and tolerance in Midlothian.

The motion was put forward by Councillors Ian Baxter (Green) and Bryan Pottinger (Labour). Cllr Pottinger is also the council’s Equalities Champion.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Baxter said –

“Midlothian is a much more diverse community than it was when I arrived here 35 years ago – I have met many residents who originate not just from south of the border but from many European countries; Americans, Australians, indeed from all four corners of the world. I am also proud that we are now providing a safe refuge to some of those fleeing the utmost horrors of the conflict in Syria.

In turn, more people brought up in Midlothian are moving beyond its borders, some permanently and some who return.

Change can be unsettling and bring uncertainly, but Midlothian is also a tolerant community, welcoming everyone willing to contribute to our diversity and culture.  However, we must not be complacent.  Hate crimes in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are up 20% in July compared to a year ago. And although there is no reported increase in Scotland, there have been reports of isolated incidents of people abused on buses in Edinburgh and neo-Nazi stickers appearing in Glasgow.

This motion was prompted by contact from a constituent, and is being presented as an opportunity for us to reaffirm our commitment to diversity in Midlothian, to reject messages of hate from wherever they come, and to reassure those from different backgrounds living and working in, or just visiting Midlothian, that they are welcome here.

I am therefore very pleased to propose this motion, and thank Cllr Pottinger, Midlothian’s Equalities Champion, who has kindly agreed to second it”.

Cllr Pottinger said –

”We do generally live in a diverse and tolerant society and Midlothian Council is always on the side of fair and equal treatment. Though some try to prevent this with their intolerant and hate filled views. Midlothian continues to work with agencies and organisations.

Refugees and Immigration were debated at the “Midlothian People’s Equality Group” AGM in JULY and we continue to address equality issues in many formats

– We educate our ehildren

– We remove racist graffiti ( promptly)

– We support diversity ( at every opportunity)

– All our policies are subject to EQiA’s.

– We work with the agencies (e.g. Police)

Our commitment to this motion is shown in many forms – We do all this to ensure we do not allow xenophobia, racism and hate to get a hold in our society, but yes we can do more!”

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