Harrow Council could abolish all-white committees after it passed motions on tackling racism and inequality at a full council meeting last night (July 16).

It formed part of a Labour Group motion brought by Cllr Adam Swersky, of West Harrow ward, which outlined the council’s “commitment to fighting systematic racism”.

Suggestions included training for councillors on race, racism and unconscious bias, greater representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in senior council positions, and the abolition of all-white committees.

Queensbury ward councillor Kiran Ramchandani said those sitting on all-white or all-male panels should forgo their positions to support this cause.

There are also plans to “review local symbols, including statues and street names, to ensure we commemorate history in a way that reflects contemporary values”.

This includes “celebrating the contribution of people from BAME communities to the past and future of Harrow through public art and other local symbols”.

The motion was backed by the Labour councillors but rejected by the borough’s Conservative Group due to its reference to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cllr Marilyn Ashton, deputy leader of Harrow Conservatives, argued it has been “hijacked by the far-left of the Labour Party”.

She said: “By using the hardship of those who are victims of discrimination and inequality to further their own brand or political ideology, the far-left of the Labour Party is undermining and diminishing the prospect of solving the problems encountered by people from black communities, thereby reducing the likelihood of them climbing up the ladder and achieving successful careers and a fruitful and productive life.”

She added that the motion would fuel “an unhelpful blame culture” rather than simply teach and educate society about integration and aspiration.

This was the thrust of her own motion, which urged the council to “increase its efforts in building a diverse, egalitarian, and cohesive community in light of recent protests in response to the death of George Floyd”.

It added that the council should “strongly reaffirm its commitment to tackling racism and discrimination in all forms”.

This motion was unanimously supported by the council, however, Cllr Sachin Shah, of Queensbury ward, criticised it as one of “inaction”.

He described it as “shambolic” with “zero policy recommendations” compared to the “serious and thoughtful” Labour motion which contained “specific things this council can do”.

Cllr Shah, like several of his colleagues, argued the Labour motion did not go far enough, but said it was a start.

Its progress will be tracked and measured against the recommendations in a report to the council’s cabinet by November.