Local councils failing BAME communities:How's yours performing?


With just a week to go before the local elections, allegations of racial discrimination, Islamophobia and antisemitism are plaguing the main political parties.  Operation Black Vote today launched its ground-breaking research relating to BAME political representation at a local authority level.

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.

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.

My colleague, Ashok Viswanathan, OBV Deputy Director initiated this report because often local democracy is more important to our day to day lives: from rubbish collections and local education to housing and roads.

Without a voice things are done to you, not for you.

Simon Woolley
OBV Director

OBV Recommendations
• All national and local political parties undertake a BAME democratic audit of members, staff and elected officials
• All national and local political parties acknowledge their BAME democratic deficit and have a comprehensive plan to close the disparities
• All national and local political parties to have an unprecedented BAME recruitment, retention and promotion drive for BAME members
• National and Local Government agencies to undertake the largest voter registration drive ever seen in this 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

Read the full report