A NEW task and finish group set up by Carmarthenshire County Council to improve diversity and address racism has begun its first piece of work, asking for people’s views about the Picton monument in Carmarthen.

The cross-party Equality and Diversity (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) Task and Finish Group has been set up by the council’s Executive Board to engage with residents and gather feedback that will help break down barriers and support Carmarthenshire’s BAME communities.

In response to recent commentary about historic monuments across the UK, the group has promised to seek the views of people about monuments and memorials, in particular the monument to Sir Thomas Picton in Carmarthen town.

A public survey has been launched, asking people if they think the council needs to take any steps in response to public discussion, and what these steps should be.

The survey is the first stage of consultation, and public feedback will be considered alongside that of external partners and other public bodies.

Cllr Cefin Campbell, Executive Board Member for Equalities and Chair of the task and finish group, said: “In light of recent events across the UK in relation to the Black Lives Matter campaign a lot of discussion has been focussed on the Picton monument and place names associated with Picton in Carmarthenshire. The aim of the Task and Finish Group is to invite opinions about what the council should do with the monument, if anything at all, and use the feedback to shape our recommendations to Full Council.

“I know that this issue is highly sensitive and has aroused a great deal of debate already from all sides which I fully understand but I must emphasise that this is only one matter being discussed by the cross-party group as we endeavour to eradicate all forms of racism and discrimination in our society.”

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The survey is available on the council’s website www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales, until September 16, 2020.

As well as asking people’s views, it will seek to establish whether there is a difference of opinion from people of different age, ethnic groups and locations.

The task and finish group has a number of objectives.

As well as addressing the monument, it seeks to engage with Carmarthenshire’s BAME community and consider how the council can improve diversity in its workforce, work with Dyfed-Powys Police to address discrimination and racism, and look at the national curriculum to ensure it includes relevant key themes.

The group’s findings will be used to inform future council policies, with its first recommendations to be made to the Executive Board by February 2021.

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