MP Maria Miller joined members of the Cultural Diversity Forum for the annual awards ceremony at the end of Black History Month. At the awards Maria gave an update on the work of the BAME Reference Group. Maria established the Group to monitor the progress in implementating of findings from the BAME Inquiry held following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Maria said, “ Black History Month has, as a result of the work of the Cultural Diversity Consortium, because an important point in the year to stop and reflect on the diversity of our community and the particular contribution made by our black community.
"Basingstoke is a thriving multicultural place that has changed significantly from a small market town of 20,000 people in the 1960s to the largest town in Hampshire today, home to over 180,000 people.
"The BAME Inquiry I launched back in 2020, grasped a moment where many people felt able to speak up about racism for the first time, following the tragic death of George Floyd. The findings were like many other similar towns. The difference is that we took those findings and acted. Hampshire County Council, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Hampshire Hospitals, Hampshire Constabulary and local businesses have all taken substantive action to address many of the issues raised.
"The Reference Group I established to follow progress continues to meet quarterly and also addresses emerging issues, with our next meeting this Friday. A community is only strong if everyone has the opportunity to contribute and play their part. Representation of Black and ethnic minority people amongst those standing for election remains low and the number of BAME people elected is low to.
"Some groups, including the new ruling administration’s cabinet that runs our local services has no elected BAME representation at all. That means no BAME people at the table where the decisions are made in a town where 1 in 5 residents is from a BAME background. I will continue to do all I can to encourage more diversity in the people standing for election to help change that.”