THE views of the Carmarthenshire public and in particular black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities will be taken on board as a cross-party group starts work on tackling racism, a senior councillor has said.
The new task and finish group will, as part of its remit, consider the future status of the Sir Thomas Picton monument in Carmarthen, along with any other monuments or street names associated with slavery.
It could meet for the first time on August 3, and will bring recommendations to the council’s executive board within six months.
The group was formally established by the Plaid Cymru-Independent executive board at a meeting on July 27, and will be chaired by Cllr Cefin Campbell, who holds the communities and rural affairs portfolio.
He said once it had its terms and reference, the group will open it up to the wider public.
“Anyone with any views about how we tackle racism in Carmarthenshire can put their views forward as individuals or as a group,” said Cllr Campbell.
“It is not a closed shop. We will be looking at all views in the round.”
He stressed that particular attention would be paid to BAME communities.
“Their views are absolutely vital to us,” he said.
The move follows two motions of the full council to increase diversity within the authority’s workforce and to support the Black Lives Matter message by working with BAME communities to identify and eradicate racism in Carmarthenshire.
The latter motion commits to include colonialism, exploitation, discrimination, and racism in the new national curriculum and to looking at ways of working with Dyfed-Powys Police to address discrimination, racism, and prejudice in the judicial system, among other objectives.
Separately, the Welsh Government is reviewing public monuments and street names associated with the history of black communities in Wales, in particular the slave trade.
Asked what would happen if the council and the Welsh Government came to different views about the Picton memorial, Cllr Campbell said: “We would discuss with the Welsh Government a way forward.
“I am sure the Welsh Government would listen to the views of local people and would be happy for us to move forward with the recommendations in the (future) report.”
Last week Cardiff Council agreed to take down its city hall statue of Picton – the Pembrokeshire-born soldier, colonial governor and plantation owner who died at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The Carmarthenshire Council motion approved earlier this month led to Plaid Cymru councillor Alan Speake leaving the party.
Cllr Speake had asked for a more public say in any decision about monuments and memorials because council taxpayers had contributed to their upkeep for years.
But he was accused of using racist language when he said that everyone – “black, white, yellow and brown” – should be consulted.
Cllr Speake rejected this, saying all he’d said was that everybody should be involved.
The Carmarthen Town West councillor is now a member of the Independent group.