By Grahame Anderson
Asian Sunday has learned anger over the #TogetherBradfordCan poster is just the tip of the iceberg in a city frustrated by the racist argument. We can also reveal according to a major source, council staff were advised not to attend last weekend’s Black Lives Matter protest, even though this would have been a great opportunity to show solidarity in the eyes of the wider community.
The advice was given by a white senior officer and may be looked upon by some as simply putting safety first. It seems others believe this action just reinforces to the public at large, prejudices still remain, albeit unconsciously in minds. This at a time when the subject of racism has come to a head, with passions running high across the globe.
Questions have also been raised about diversity within the ranks of council staff, and what was planned for the future to address the disparity in such a culturally diverse city.
We have also discovered the #TogetherBradfordCan poster was produced by a PR company in Ilkley, as part of a partnership campaign linked to Bradford’s Business Improvement Districts. Further questions have been asked however about why even with their own PR and marketing staff, the project had to be outsourced?
Asian Sunday has also learned the council’s Chief Executive believed – to see the city people work hard for every day represented in this way was hugely disappointing and unacceptable. The imagery deployed represents neither the district, the objectives of the campaign or indeed the diversity of Council staff working to support business.
She intimated along with the leader of the Council she shared a huge personal commitment to equality and social justice and to recognising the wide-ranging diversity of the District.
We have good reason to believe the Council issued a formal apology not as a damage limitation exercise, but recognition the production of the poster in showing just white people, was unacceptable, and they’d be looking to see how the images were placed together and who signed them off. There’s been an instruction issued not to use the posters again.
Council Staff Diversity
In the light of equality and diversity and representation within the Council workforce – Asian Sunday has good reason to believe an immediate review is under way involving the council’s internal capacity to support this work to be undertaken and for proposals to build additional capacity to be developed.
Our investigation revealed an increasing number of people from BAME backgrounds are taking on more senior roles within the Council than has been the case for many years. But in terms of both middle and senior managers – figures we obtained revealed more than 75 per cent were white.
We can, however, highlight the present Labour run council is determined to ensure ethnicity and other characteristics cannot act as barriers to development and opportunity.
Austerity A major Factor
There’s a feeling in the Council, the austerity measures of the last decade have had a huge impact on staff recruitment. It seems posts have been shed making it impossible to create any sort of balance in terms diversity.
The Council feel they have fallen short when massive efforts by locals and the NHS have saved lives.
Asian Sunday asked the Council for a response and they issued this statement.
“We lit up buildings across our city centre purple last week to remember the killing of George Floyd and in solidarity with all those fighting racism in our district and around the world. We are a City which is built on strong foundations of diversity and have a proud history of welcoming and celebrating people from around the world and their contribution.
“During this pandemic, we have regularly repeated messages to residents about staying at home and saving lives, in order to stop the spread of the virus. We have cancelled all council events, moved council meetings online, closed our theatres, and moved 3500 staff to work from home. The Government is easing the lockdown but regulations are still in place nationally which say that no more than 6 people can gather together, and people cannot go into each others’ houses.
“Council staff were not given any advice around their attendance at these events.
“We acknowledge and have apologised for the distress caused by a particular image which was used on social media as part of a wider campaign to encourage all businesses from across the district to share their stories of how they have coped and adapted during the pandemic. This image was one of a number of images used on social media for the campaign and was not a specific poster. This local business was contracted to develop and deliver a business support campaign in partnership with the Council and business organisations, of which this social media post was one element.
“As at 1 June 2020 we have 8,168 people who work for Bradford Council (this excludes those working in schools). Of those who have given details of their demographics and background 65% are female, 35% are male, 27.7% are from a BAME background, 4.3% are disabled, 0.6% are LGBTQ+.
“Since 2015 BAME diversity in senior management (special grades/equivalent and above) has increased from 14% to 24.5%.”