A rally has taken place today to protest against Northumberland County Council’s decision to end its contract with an anti-racism charity.
The Northumberland Public Services Alliance, which is made up of a number of unions and organised the event, called on councillors to think again about the authority pulling the plug on annual funding for Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) to provide workshops in schools.
It took place outside County Hall in Morpeth ahead of the full meeting of the council this afternoon (Wednesday, May 1) and was addressed by ex-professional footballer and ambassador for the charity, Trevor Benjamin.
Unison regional secretary, Clare Williams, said: “We appreciate the recent developments between Show Racism the Red Card and the council both agreeing to work together.
“However, as unions, we are urging county councillors to think again about funding for Show Racism the Red Card to enable them continue the valuable and essential work with young people across Northumberland.”
The issue was on the agenda at the subsequent meeting, but only to provide councillors on information about the equalities education provided in schools across Northumberland.
As at Monday’s cabinet meeting, Coun Wayne Daley, the portfolio holder for children’s services, emphasised the whole range of anti-discrimination work carried out by the council.
He said that he wanted to bring this report to full council ‘to make sure every member is aware’ that the authority’s work in this area is being ‘enhanced and increased’ due to changes in Ofsted inspection framework.
Coun Daley also drew attention to the council’s new equalities fund to which SRtRC is welcome to apply.
“This council is not walking away from its responsibilities in relation to anti-discrimination education. In fact, the opposite is true,” he added.
Labour leader, Coun Susan Dungworth, said: “In the current climate, the fact this has attracted so much attention is about the rise in division and the rise in hate crime.
“I welcome the report and I welcome the statements from the council and Show Racism the Red Card.
“No one in this Labour group has accused the council of being racist or taking a racist decision. This is too important.”
Ged Grebby, chief executive of SRtRC, thanked the council (NCC) for its support and said that while disappointed at the decision to end the contract, ‘we recognise the good practice done by NCC around other equality strands and hope to work with them again in the future’.
A council spokeswoman said: “We fully understand their disappointment at this commissioning change, however, as a council we have a duty to ensure that the wide range of support for all of our schools and young people is provided consistently throughout the county.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service