Saturday, 27 March 2010

Equality & Human Rights Nottingham funding is cut

The Council for Equality & Human Rights Nottingham & Nottinghamshire (CEHRNN) has had funding cut after joining 'anti'-fascist protesters opposing the EDL in Nottingham on December 5th last year.

It looks like it was the last nail in the coffin for them. Here's the full story courtesy of the Nottingham Evening Post...

It states:

"Some council officers felt the CEHRNN's involvement with the recent English Defence League assembly had risked doing more to increase tensions than to reduce them.

"It was noted that the CEHRNN had been attempting to balance its role between defending freedom of speech for the Muslim community, recognising the EDL's right to freedom of speech and encouraging the Police to guard against incitement of religious hatred.

"Nonetheless, the general feeling shared by Nottingham City Council and the Police was that the Council for Equality and Human Rights Nottingham and Nottinghamshire's presence and strategy on December 5 was unhelpful and was contrary to that agreed by the local authority and its partners."

The cost of policing demonstrations organised by the EDL and anti-fascist groups in Nottingham was put at more than £200,000.

Notts Police have refused to clarify why the presence of the CEHRNN was unhelpful and an explanation has not been provided by the city council, despite requests by the Evening Post and the CEHRNN.

Staff at the CEHRNN refute the allegations and claim they are being undermined.

Workers who were at the EDL rally say they simply stayed close to a group of young Muslims who had become involved in a fracas on the day and guided them away from potential trouble.

Nottingham South MP, Alan Simpson, who was involved in speaking with numerous organisations ahead of the EDL rally and on the day, said: "If anyone was scuppering any plan on the day I would have been informed. "This retrospective criticism does not have any credibility."

Other criticisms in the report include:

Inappropriate representation on the CEHRNN board.

Lack of cover for staff in key positions, staff absence and difficulties.

The CEHRNN continues to focus on mainly race inequality instead of looking at all forms of inequality equally

Not setting out new name and remit quickly enough.

Not enough work with groups other than black and ethnic minority groups

Offices sometimes not open or staff not contactable.

Gordon Griffith, chairman of the CEHRNN's board, said:

"The concerns raised in the equality impact assessment have all been and are being addressed.

"For example we have representation on our board with members of Nottingham's gay community and our chief executive is also sitting on boards representing the interests of disabled people.

We are an organisation which has been in existence for 54 years and embedding change can take time but we have been responding to all the points raised. There have also been some staffing issues and again these are being addressed. The city council have also accused us of breaking protocol in relation to the EDL rally but we have not been informed of any protocol. 

The whole report seems to be riddled with these strange accusations. There is no other organisation which is dealing with inequality in the city and this decision by the city council undermines the 54 years of hard work by the former Race Equality Council, now CEHRNN."

The decision to pull the funding was published on Friday following a behind closed doors meeting involving Coun Hassan Ahmed, responsible for equalities, and deputy council leader Coun Graham Chapman.

Nottingham City Council's corporate director for community and culture, Michael Williams, said: "The city council appreciated the work the CEHRNN had done to promote racial equality and diversity in the city.

"Unfortunately, despite considerable support from the city council, it has not been able to fulfil its wider role. In particular it has not been able to monitor and respond effectively to all hate incidents including racial harassment, homophobia, disability-related crime and other hate crime for which it now receives its funding."

"The city council's single equality scheme, Fair and Just Nottingham, makes tackling hate incidents a top priority but the CEHRNN has not been able to complete the areas of work the city council and its partner agencies need to focus on to meet this priority, despite support from the council.

"We have done everything we can to work with the CEHRNN and help it tackle the new requirements.

"The city council will continue to fund these services in alternative ways which will pick up the wider issues in all communities including schools, older people and disabled and vulnerable people."


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