The following statement has been put out by my colleague Cllr Aiken, cabinet member for public protection, and I strongly endorse it. Britain is rightly celebrated for its openness and tolerance and that should continue.
“I can assure you that I and the rest of my colleagues on Westminster City Council condemn racism, xenophobia and hate crime and agree with you that there is no place for such behaviour in our city or country as a whole. As you will be aware, Westminster is one of the most diverse places in the world, with hundreds of thousands of people from different backgrounds living side by side. We have been very fortunate that over the past decades we have seen very little if any tension between communities who live peacefully together. However, we are not complacent and sadly we have seen a spike of reported hate crimes in the borough over recent days. We are working with the police and other partners to ensure each and every one of our communities feel safe and secure.
Westminster has always taken such issues seriously. Our former leader, Sir Simon Milton, launched the well regarded One City Programme in 2005 following the 7/7 attacks. Under our current leader, Philippa Roe, our strategic plan is called City for All. Both demonstrate a clear stance against division and isolation and instead embrace integration, harmony and partnership.
As for the request for a motion to be debated at Full Council, Westminster City Councillors already have done so at previous full council meetings recently, notably following the attacks in Paris. I am also delighted to inform you that we launched our Community Cohesion Commission last week. The Commission is a cross party group which has been set up to better understand cohesion in Westminster, to ensure our city continues to be a place where everyone feels that they belong, whatever their religion or none, their background, their sexual orientation. It will also be considering how we can address any problems of isolation or individuals or communities and how to address the possible root causes of radicalisation and other related issues. Further information on the Commission can be found at www.westminster.gov.uk
I hope I have been able to address your concerns and demonstrate how seriously Westminster City Council takes community cohesion and will continue to work with partners to address any hate crimes reported and will do all we can to prevent them occurring in the first place.