In May at our Annual Meeting, we unanimously elected Cllr Mini Kaur Mangat as our Chair.
Not only is Councillor Mangat the youngest person to fulfil the responsibilities of this role, she is also the first woman of colour to be Chair of Warwick District Council.
It is with considerable regret therefore, that I inform Members that in the course of representing the Council at different public events across the district, Cllr Mangat has experienced serious and sustained racial abuse.
Cllr Mangat has come forward reluctantly and is understandably concerned that in making this public statement, she and her family may suffer further racist attacks. However, as a long-time campaigner against racism, our Chair firmly believes that it is important that we as a Council come together to speak out to condemn this unacceptable behaviour.
Whilst Cllr Mangat continues to enthusiastically carry out her duties at our Chair, measures are being put in place to provide some protection, including restricting the online publication of her personal contact details. Our local police force is also providing Cllr Mangat with advice and practical support, demonstrating just how seriously they take this form of hate crime.
The fact that our Chair has been attacked in this way has come as something of a shock to me. But, I hope that in shining a bright light on this abhorrent behaviour, we might also encourage others to challenge racism wherever it is found in our community. This is an attack on our way of life and the values on which we as Councillors are building a better society.
Racism in all its forms must be confronted whenever it is encountered, so I commend Mini for her bravery at what must be a difficult time for her and her family.
This is also an appropriate moment to reaffirm that Warwick District Council does not tolerate discrimination in any form, and we continue to strive to ensure that racism and exclusion are eliminated in our community, as we work to make Warwick district a safe and inclusive place for everyone to live, work and visit.