City Council promotes tolerant and inclusive Winchester

Press Release: 30/06/2016

The City Council has issued a clear statement of its determination to make the Winchester district a tolerant and inclusive place.

This comes in response to an apparent rise in racist and xenophobic incidents and hate-crimes in some parts of the country and concerns expressed to councillors by local residents.

Cllr Stephen Godfrey, the Leader of Winchester City Council, said:

Winchester City Council - including all councillors and all officers - works with great determination to make Winchester a tolerant and inclusive place.

The City Council is open to all. For example, it was one of the first councils in the South of England to welcome Syrian refugees and is providing more homes for those that have none. The Council welcomes Muslim worshippers to use its buildings and provides Jewish visitors with specific information and guidance on Winchester. The Council welcomed a delegation from the Shin Buddhist Convention a couple of years ago.

I will personally do all that I can to promote this approach and recently attended the vigil around the Rainbow Flag at the Great Hall. The City Council’s policies reflect this commitment, notably through work such as the Community Safety Partnership and the funding we provide to voluntary organisations working with vulnerable groups in our community. The Council has a strong Equality and Diversity Policy which requires high standards of behaviour from officers. As another example, the Council has developed a multi-faith extension to its cemetery facilities.

Cllr Lucille Thompson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats on the City Council, said:

We are proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society. Racism, xenophobia and hate-crimes have no place in our country. Winchester City Council condemns racism, xenophobia and hate-crimes unequivocally. We will not allow hate to become acceptable.

We will work across parties to ensure that local bodies and programmes have the support and resources they need to fight and prevent racism and xenophobia. We reassure all people living in Winchester district that they are valued members of our community.

Any incidents that may be witnessed should be reported to the police.