East Devon leaders publicly vow to stamp out racism and hate crime

PUBLISHED: 12:53 29 July 2016

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'We are not immune to this sort of issue in our community'

District leaders have publicly vowed to stamp out racism and celebrate diversity amid recognition that East Devon is ‘not immune’ to hate crimes.

Councillors are sending the message that any xenophobic or discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated and reassured the community that they are fully committed to fighting such issues.

The matter was raised at a full East Devon District Council (EDDC) meeting on Wednesday (July 27), when members unanimously backed a motion for the authority to publically reaffirm its stance.

Councillor Mike Howe proposed the motion and said: “EDDC condemns racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally – we will not allow hate to become acceptable.”

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Tom Wright said: “I sit on police and crime panel and this issue has been very much discussed. I can assure you that Devon and Cornwall police are totally committed to doing all they can.

“We are not immune to this sort of issue in East Devon. We should do all we can to stamp it out and not tolerate it.”

Councillor Douglas Hull spoke out about his own experience of being verbally assaulted when he was younger and working in Birmingham.

He said: “It’s only words you say, but I remember going back to my village feeling as if I had been punched. And it’s a horrible feeling for anybody to experience this.”

EDDC will work pro-actively with local bodies and programmes to fight racism and xenophobia so that everyone is valued and respected whatever their age, disability, gender, race religion or belief or sexual orientation.

Ottery St Mary resident Sara Drew attended the meeting after being ‘horrified by the sudden rise in incidents of race hatred and intolerance following the European Union referendum’.

She told the Herald: “We have a proud tradition in this country of welcoming people from abroad to live and work here and contribute to our nation.

“EDDC can and must show leadership at this time and I therefore urge the elected members to make it clear to everyone in this district that there is no place for any kind of expressions of hatred and intolerance.”

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