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Preston Labour criticised for withdrawing racial and religious hate crime motion

Posted on - 30th June, 2019 - 6:00am | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
Inside the council chamber at Preston Town Hall
Inside the council chamber at Preston Town Hall

A proposal to strengthen the city’s commitment to tackling hate crime has been withdrawn from a recent council meeting.

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Preston Labour had tabled the motion which acknowledged a rising number of Islamaphobic and anti-semitic incidents across the UK.

Councillor Carol Henshaw tabled the motion ahead of the Thursday 27 June full council meeting, but the city centre councillor then withdrew the motion.

Cllr Henshaw when asked by Blog Preston about why the motion was withdrawn said: “The motion on religious and racial hate crime was withdrawn today because after discussion we felt it would be good practice to consult with the faith based organisations like Preston Faith Forum first.

“We had also received some other comments around the fact that other forms of hate crime weren’t mentioned, so I do hope to have a more inclusive motion to present as soon as possible.”

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The withdrawl of the motion was attacked by the Preston Liberal Democrat group.

Councillor Neil Darby said: “This council must be absolutely clear in our commitment to stand up to hate crime of all stripes. We owe it to the thousands of Prestonians who identify as Muslim or Jewish, LGBT, disabled, transgender, or any other characteristic which may make them a target of hate crime.

“I want to see a Preston free of hate – and I believe that this motion will take us a step in the right direction by giving this Council the framework to identify it, the first step in eliminating hate.

“I am very disappointed that Labour withdrew the notice of motion on Hate Crime shortly before the council meeting. With Hate Crime on the rise, it is particularly important that Preston City Council plays its part in spelling out that such attitudes are not welcome in our city.

“I welcome the recognition from the cabinet that their motion was more limited that it could have been – however I do believe that the Lib Dem amendment would have addressed this issue today rather than enforcing this delay. I feel that the timing of Labour pulling this motion was unfortunate, coming just a day after their party readmitted Chris Williamson after his suspension after his unacceptable stance on antisemitism within the party.

“I offered Labour the opportunity to condemn his words in the face of this timing – but I was surprised and disappointed that Labour did not take this up.”

Blog Preston approached Preston Labour for comment on why the moton was withdrawn.

Council leader Matthew Brown said: “Labour in Preston has supported initiatives to tackle all forms of hate crime and racism including Antisemitism and Islamophobia and will strongly continued to do so. This includes Standing Together Against Racism commemorating UN Anti Racism Day and our new Heartstone project encouraging children and young people to build an inclusive and tolerant community free from racism.

“Cllr Henshaw and other Labour Councillors last month helped organise protests against Tommy Robinson in Preston whom the Jewish Chronicle reported had attended a rally in Poland with far right activists engaging in grossly offensive antisemitic chants.

“We are disappointed no one in the Liberal Democratic Group in Preston joined these protests to strengthen cross party campaigning against racism.”

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You can read the full motion that was due to be proposed here.

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