York & North Yorkshire Chamber backs anti-racism pledge

York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce is backing a new strategy to make York the first city in the north of England to become anti-racist.

The campaign group Inclusive Equal Rights UK (IERUK) has developed the five-year strategy in partnership with academics from the Institute for Social Justice at York St John University and is based on qualitative date collected from City of York Council, schools, higher education, North Yorkshire Police, health trusts and the private sector.

Laurence Beardmore, president of York & North Yorkshire Chamber, said: “We at the Chamber enthusiastically support the goal to make York a racism free city.

“York is renowned for so many positive things, from its economy to its heritage to its institutions.

“To become the country’s first anti-racist city will only enhance its reputation and serve as an example to other geographies.”

IERUK’s initial data research shows that York City Council members are entirely white and the York contingent of North Yorkshire Police has less than 10 minority ethnic police officers.

Police stop and search data shows that black residents have approximately 90 times more stop and search rates as white residents. Those of Asian or Asian British background are 18 times more likely to be stopped than white people.

In the health sector, just five per cent of the 734 staff at the Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Mental Health Trust, the second largest health organisation serving York, are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

None of its senior managers in the York area are BAME, even though evidence shows that people of colour overwhelmingly use the mental health services more than any other racial groups.

In 2022, hate crime incidents in the North Yorkshire Police force area exceeded 1,000 for the first time. Approximately, two-thirds were race-related hate crimes.

Haddy Nije, Chair of IERUK, said: “This work matters because the data widely documents that racism in York is casual, systemic, and structural. It is manifested in many forms that disproportionately and negatively impacts the lives and livelihood of people of colour.”

Key initiatives of the strategy include asking public and private sector employers to sign an Anti-Racist Pledge, targeted outreach programs for underrepresented communities, the establishment of a racial equity commission to review city policies, and the implementation of unconscious bias training for all city employees.

A motion to be the North’s first anti-racist city, emulating Brighton and Oxford, was approved by all City of York councillors in October 2021.

The five-year anti-racism strategy will be launched on July 6, and will be available on the City of York Council and IERUK website.

To sign the pledge please visit: https://www.ieruk.org.uk/pledge

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