Press release: BAME Local Political Representation Audit 2019

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PRESS RELEASE: Immediate

Contact OBV press office: 

020 8983 5430 / 020 8983 5444 / 07920 057 237

A third of Local councils failing BAME communities

As reported in this morning's Guardian, OBV's has ground-breaking research relating to BAME political representation at a local authority level.

With just a week to go before the local elections, allegations of racial discrimination, Islamophobia and antisemitism are plaguing the main political parties and their representatives. 

OBV looked at 123 ‘Single Tier’ local authorities in England. Single tier local authorities control all of the London Boroughs, several large cities, major regions, and the lion’s share of the UK.

The BAME figures overall tell us the numbers don’t look bad-of the 7306 councillors in the 123 single-tier local authorities, 1026 are BAME.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.  About one third - 40 - of these local authorities have only one or no BAME councillors at all: 12 have one BAME councillor; 28 have none. These councils control areas that have BAME populations ranging from 6% - 12%.

Other local authorities that are cause for serious concern are City of Westminster council that has a BAME population of 39% yet only, 7 BAME councillors, representing just 12% of all councillors.~

Bromley, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, Wandsworth; and Milton Keynes and Reading all have sizable BAME populations, but are extremely poor when it comes to BAME political representation.

Simon Woolley, OBV Director said:
“Some of the data makes very depressing reading. The findings appear to show that some local political leaders really don't care about representative democracy. Leaving communities without a representative voice is a recipe for community breakdown and discord."

Ashok Viswanathan, OBV Deputy Director said:
“I initiated this report because it's so often the local that impacts on our day to day lives: from rubbish collections and local education to housing and roads. Only a strong political voice, alongside social action can bring change.“

OBV Recommendations
• All political parties undertake a BAME democratic audit of members, staff and elected officials at local and national level
• All political parties  acknowledge their BAME democratic deficit and have a comprehensive plan to balance the disparities
• All political parties to have an unprecedented BAME recruitment, retention and promotion  drive for BAME members at local and national level
• National and Local Government agencies to undertake the largest voter registration drive ever seen in the UK
• Schools to have mandatory comprehensive citizenship lessons
• National and local Government to support third sector initiatives that help bring BAME individuals to the civic and political space

Notes for editor:

1)     OBV is non-partisan political campaigning organisation.
2)     Operation Black Vote exists to ensure we have greater racial justice and equality throughout the UK.
3)     The report will be available online from 12PM 26th April 2019.

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