coat of arms of South Ribble Borough CouncilThe non-metropolitan district of South Ribble was formed in 1974 as a result of administrative changes wrought by the Local Government Act 1972. It is composed of the Leyland and Walton-le-Dale Districts as well as Preston Rural District and is part of the county of Lancashire. In 2006 Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors that were in power pushed for a move that would see South Ribble merge with Preston City Council and form a unitary authority separate from Lancashire County Council. Councillors from the opposition along with local residents contested the merger, so the councillors that initially fought for the bill were now forced to make a u-turn.

The Boundary Commission for England created a new constituency of Wyre and Preston North, and as a result some of South Ribble’s wards were lost. The constituency has moved further south and south-west, and comprises three districts: South Ribble, West Lancashire and Chorley.

Following the 2007 elections, South Ribble saw a Conservative landslide victory. The party now holds 44 out of the 55 seats on the borough council.

The population of the borough is 109,867, comprised mainly of the 98.0% who give their ethnicity as white. The largest ethnic minority group after the white majority is the Indian community, who make up 0.5% of South Ribble’s population. The vast majority of the borough is Christian, who make up 84.7% of the area’s population. The only other significant religious group is the Hindu community, who constitute 0.4% of the population. Muslims make up 0.3%, while 0.1% gave their religion as ‘other’. The statistics show that at the time (2001) there was 0.0% Jewish and 0.0% Sikh, while 8.7% followed no religion and 5.6% chose not to state their faith.

South Ribble Borough Council has made a commitment to equality and diversity, ensuring that delivering first class service to all its users, regardless of race, religion, gender, social background, sexual orientation, age or disability is at the top of their agendas. Under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Council pledges to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination, to promote equality of opportunity and to promote good relations between persons of different groups.

Lancashire County CouncilThe administrative, historic and geographic county of Lancashire comprises 12 districts and is situated in north-western England. Historically a part of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, the region has gone through numerous changes in boundaries over the centuries. Until 1832 the parliamentary constituency comprised the whole county except Clitheroe, Lancaster, Liverpool, Newton, Preston and Wigan. In 1972 under the Local Government Act 1972 under administrative reforms it was recognised as a non-metropolitan county and lost Merseyside, Greater Manchester and its southern Lakeland fringe.

The County Council is based in Preston though Lancaster is widely recognised as the county town. The districts that make up the area under the control of the County Council are Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, the Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire and Wyre. The council consists of 84 councillors, with the Labour party in control, who have 44 councillors, versus 31 Conservative councillors and 6 Liberal Democrats.

The breakdown of the ethnic groups in Lancashire is as follows. 94.7% of those polled for the 2001 Census describe themselves as of white ethnicity. 0.7% are of mixed race. 4.1% are Asian, 0.2% are black, 0.4% gave their ethnicity as Chinese or other. There are a number of wards in Lancashire with over an ethnic minority population of 50% or over. These include Preston, Blackburn, Accrington, Nelson and Burnley.

The Council has developed a strategic framework in order that differences between people are valued, everyone has an equal chance to live and work free from discrimination, and the county will be a beacon for a just and fair society. Their objectives include regulating and monitoring the workplace, improving access to information and services, meeting targets to a satisfying standard, and building trust and confidence throughout the county.

Wirral Metropolitan Borough CouncilWirral is a metropolitan borough in Merseyside, North West England, which occupies the northern part of the Wirral Peninsula, more commonly known as Wirral.

Wirral Metropolitan Borough has a population of about 311,235 (2004 estimate) in an area of 60 square miles (155 km²). It faces Liverpool over the River Mersey to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and the River Dee to the west. To the south it borders the borough of Ellesmere Port and Neston, in Cheshire.

Major towns and villages in the borough include Birkenhead, Wallasey, Bebington, Heswall and Hoylake.

Wirral has a population of 312,293, of which 98.3% considers itself to have a White ethnic background, 0.4% South Asian, 0.2% Afro-Caribbean, and 0.4% Chinese or other.  The borough, largest ethnic minority group is Chinese, and comprises 1,320 community members.  There are 251,834 Christians in the area, and 32,770 people of no religious affiliation.  The largest minority religious group is Muslim, contituting 890 of Wirral’s inhabitants.  There is a relatively even numerical spread between (454), Hindus (411) and Jews (316), and the borough is also home to 221 Sikhs.

No party currently has overall control of Wirral Council (seat breakdown: Liberal Democrat 20 / Conservative 21 / Labour 25).

The Wirral Multicultural Organisation encourages multicultural understanding and acts as a focus for all multicultural activities in Wirral. The organisation has its own purpose-built centre and has staff who help Wirral's ethnic minority communities to access services, employment and training, and meet their general needs.

There is also a Minority Ethnic Achievement Service (MEAS) in Wirral, whose staff work in Primary and Secondary schools throughout the borough. The aim of the Service is to remove language barriers, provide access to the curriculum, raise self-esteem and encourage social integration.

MEAS staff:

  •  assess pupils learning English as an Additional Language (EAL). (Foundation Stage – Y11). Pupils (Y1 and above) at the earlier stages of learning English are assessed using the scale for assessing early progress in English as an Additional Language as set out in ‘A Language in Common. Assessing English as an Additional Language’ QCA 2000.
  • provide advice and materials to staff.
  •  monitor pupils.
  • provide direct teaching support for prioritised pupils.
  • work closely with school staff in order to ensure that the needs of the pupils are addressed effectively. (e.g. to analyse the language demands of the curriculum and to advise on activities that will encourage speaking and listening).
  • work with parents and the wider community and write reports for the parents of pupils receiving direct support
  •  provide training centrally and school based e.g. on assessment, target setting and tracking the progress of pupils.
  • provide advice regarding linguistic and cultural matters, including dietary and religious information and on the handling of racist incidents. 
  •  provide information on interpreter and translation services and are able to provide advice on the use of interpreters.
  • support the admission of new arrivals including refugee, Gypsy Roma and Irish traveller pupils.

In future staff will give advice on embedding race equality through the curriculum and advise on materials that promote a greater understanding of ethnic diversity and racial equality.

Cumbria County CouncilCumbria is an administrative county of 478,607 in extreme north-western England. Human occupation dates back many centuries to the Neolithic era and has seen Roman settlement and their many impressive constructions including forts, roads and Hadrian’s Wall. In more recent times it has undergone administrative changes which have meant the county has grown to include the addition of the historic counties Cumberland and Westmorland, and has included the addition of part of North Lancashire which includes the Lake District. The Sedburgh Rural district became a part of the county, having previously been a part of West Riding of Yorkshire. The county also includes the Eden and Kent river valleys and the Carlisle plain.

The county, despite being the third largest in area in England, is the second least densely populated in England. The population totals 498,800. A large proportion of the land is given over to the Lake District National Park, widely considered to be one of the most beautiful natural beauty sites in the entire country. The highest point in the England (Scafnell Pike, which stands at 978 metres) is in the county. In fact all the terrain that is more than 3,000 feet above sea level is in Cumbria.

Cumbria, along with other sparse counties throughout England, has a low proportion of ethnic minority groups. According to the 2001 census, of the 487,607 residents, 99.3% describe themselves as having a white ethnic background. 0.3% are mixed race, 0.2% are Asian, 0.1% are black and 0.2% are Chinese. The population is an ageing one, with 24.8% of the population being over 60 years of age compared with the nationwide average of 21%. The under-4, under-14, under-19 and under-24 age categories meanwhile are underrepresented.

There are six districts in the county, Allerdale, Barrow-In-Furness, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden and South Lakeland. For administrative purposes the region is sometimes divided into three areas, East, West and South. East covers Carlisle and Eden, West covers Allerdale and South Lakelane, and South comprises Barrow-In-Furness. The county has 84 elected members, each representing one electoral division. There are 39 Labour members, 32 Conservative members, 11 Liberal Democrat members and 2 Independent members.

In January 2007 Cumbria County Council voted in favour of abolishing the two-tier system of county and district councils, with a view to adopting a new unitary Cumbria Council. The proposal was submitted to the Department for Communities and Local Government. It was rejected, so now radical proposals have been put forward to make local government more responsive and effective, having identified the weaknesses in the existing system.

A survey conducted in Spring 2007 by Cumbria County Council in conjunction with the Community Voice (a representative panel of residents in Cumbria), reveals Cumbrian attitudes towards diversity. 56% of Cumbrians feel racial prejudice in their county is about the same as five years ago. 23% feel it is more now, while 10% feel it is less now.

In accordance with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 the Council has outlined a variety of policies and procedures to ensure all of Cumbria’s residents receive fair treatment. Their vision is outlined here:

  • First: No one from Council will treat staff or members of the public unfairly.
  • Second: People do not suffer from racism, sexism, homophobia or unfair treatment on the grounds of disability, faith and age.
  • Third: Gays, lesbians and bi-sexuals don’t feel they have to keep quiet to stay safe.
  • Fourth: Every group has a part to play.
  • Fifth: Men and women should be able to work and have a life outside work.
  • Sixth: Disabled people are given the power to take a full part in life.
  • Seventh: People of all religions and those who believe in nothing, can talk about their beliefs in public.  
  • Eighth: No one is too young or old to do what they want in life.

The Council’s policies on race relations seem to have instilled faith in the residents of Cumbria, as the survey reveals 81% of residents are confident that someone from an ethnic minority would receive fair treatment from the local council. Only 4% would not be confident.

St Helens Metropolitan Borough CouncilSt. Helens is a Metropolitan Borough in Merseyside, England. It is named after the main town, St Helens. Other settlements in the Metropolitan Borough include Newton-le-Willows, Earlestown, Haydock, Rainhill, Eccleston, Clock Face, Billinge and Rainford.

The Metropolitan Borough was formed on April 1, 1974 as a merger of the former County Borough of St Helens, along with the urban districts of Haydock, Newton-le-Willows and Rainford, and parts of Billinge-and-Winstanley and Ashton-in-Makerfield urban districts, along with part of Whiston Rural District, all from the administrative county of Lancashire.

The borough borders the borough of Knowsley, within Merseyside, in the south-west, the West Lancashire district of Lancashire in the north, the Greater Manchester borough of Wigan in the north-east, and to the south the unitary authorities of Warrington and Halton.

The population of St. Helens is 176,843, of which 98.8% considers itself to be of a White ethnic heritage, 0.4% South Asian, 0.1% Afro-Caribbean, and 0.2% Chinese or other.  The largest ethnic minority group is Indian, comprising 409 members of the community.  There are 153,636 Christians in St. Helens, and 11,107 people with no religious beliefs.  The largest minority religious group is Muslim, with 349 members of the local population subscribing to the Islamic faith.  The next largest religious groups, although still very small, are Hindus (294) and Buddhists (165).

No party currently has overall control of Sefton’s local council (seat breakdown: Liberal Democrat 20 / Labour 21 / Conservative 6 / Independent 1).

St. Helens Council says that it is committed to a pro-active engagement with the arts, encouraging artistic endeavor because it:

  •  Is a driver for job creation, regeneration and economic development 
  •  Enhances the quality of life for individuals and their communities
  • Contributes to the positive development of the physical environment.

It states: "[t]he Arts present a positive public profile of the borough for all partners in St Helens and bring a better educated and informed community, enhancing business and inward investment".

While such enthusiasm for community regeneration inevitably contributes towards an increased understanding of and enthusiasm for diversity in the borough, St.Helens Council also takes a specific and stringent stance on racial harassment:

"[We recognise] that disadvantage and discrimination exist in society, and people may experience more than one form of discrimination. The Council is committed to striving to eliminate these inequalities and aims to be fair, reasonable and just in its responsibilities".

To achieve the core value of equality the council has adopted three equality objectives: 

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination
  • Promote equality of opportunit
  • Promote good relations between people within a diverse community.
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