Who Runs Redbridge? event


The governance of our local authority and city has become increasingly complex: Where does power lie? Who, at a local level has responsibility for our education, litter or indeed for representing our views and concerns on the Council? How can ordinary residents effectively interact with and influence the kaleidoscope of public bodies and institutions that make decisions over our daily lives?

Operation Black Vote (OBV) in a unique and ground breaking partnership with London Civic Forum and the London Empowerment Partnership’s Targeted Support on Tuesday evening ran an event at Redbridge Town Hall to explore the levers of power in Redbridge and how local BME communities can influence, shape, and lead the debate for the positive change.

Speakers at the event included Mike Gapes MP, Magistrates Aneeta Prem and Andrew Thomas, school governor Bunmi Shodeyi, and former Mayor of Redbridge Councillor Thomas Chan. All gave an account of their roles in the wider decision making process, how you can get involved and why it is imperative that BME communities play a full and positive role within civic and democratic society.

The audience of just over thirty people came out on a wintry evening despite the snow and rain to be inspired and informed, as well as to pout questions to the panel about the spending cuts in Redbridge, how they themselves had made a positive impact for social change and to find out what more they could do?

In his inauguration speech in 1961 President Kennedy said ’Ask not what ypour country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’? Almost forty year later President Obama reminded American voters ‘That this is not about me. It’s about you.’ Often politics is posited as a ‘them and us’ proposition, but politics more often than not is about the mass people making a difference by politically organising and mobilising to ensure our voices are heard. In Mahatma Gandhi words: ‘we must be the change we want to see in the World’. In Redbridge, at this meeting that message was made repeatedly, real and powerfully by speaker and audience alike.

All the speakers and many members of the audience agreed that there should be more events like this in Redbridge, and OBV agreed to come back to help facilitate greater social activism in local communities. Next time we need to make it not 30, but 300 attendees that will come to contribute and engage, inspire and inform one another to be the positive agents of social change in their communities and beyond. To make this happen the first step starts with you and me...

We would also like to take this opportunity to offer our services to other communities across London as part of this project. We would be delighted to come and talk to your community group - however large or small in 2011. How can we individually and collectively influence decision making and shape the future of your communities over the coming year? Why don’t you let us know by logging on and leaving a comment to this piece?

We will be publishing a video document of the event in the New Year so come back and visit us!

Furthermore you can order the Who Runs my City? booklets and other OBV material from the office by contacting 0208 983 5474 or emailing ashley@obv.org.uk. Alternatively to find out more visit www.whorunslondon.org.uk and www.obv.org.uk.