A period of up to one hour is allocated to consider the motions on notice. This may only be extended with the agreement of the Council.
The Vice Chairman explained that in respect of Councillor R. Hunter’s motion it has been agreed by the Leader and accepted by Councillor Hunter, that this matter would be referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration.
The Vice Chairman also advised that, in respect of Councillor McDonald’s motion, following discussions, it had also been agreed that the subject of the Motion would be referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration.
IHRA Definition of Antisemitism
Members considered the following Motion on Notice, submitted by Councillor M. Thompson:
“This Council, in solidarity agrees to unequivocally adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”
The Motion was proposed by Councillor M. Thompson and seconded by Councillor A. Kriss.
In proposing the Motion, Councillor Thompson explained that whilst there had been suggestions that the Motion might be unconstitutional and amendments had been suggested, it was important to tackle prejudice. Reference was made to the findings in the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report ‘Investigation into Antisemitism in the Labour Party’, which was published in October 2020, the lessons that were being learned from this and the action that had been taken since. Councillor Thompson highlighted his own political past and advised that he was opposed to all forms of racism, including antisemitism, and expressed concerns that racist and antisemitic comments had been made by national political figures from a number of political parties over the years.
In seconding the Motion Councillor Kriss explained that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) had been established to tackle prejudice, undertake research and to raise awareness of antisemitism and the Holocaust. The IHRA had worked on the Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations, which had been introduced following concerns that reports of antisemitism were on the rise globally. Increasingly, people were expressing antisemitic comments and opinions in their criticisms of Israel and unfortunately some people believed in conspiracy theories about Jewish people. The IHRA definition of antisemitism had been adopted by the Government and Councillor Kriss urged Bromsgrove District Council to do the same.
During consideration of this item, Councillor S. Douglas suggested that clarification should be provided about the focus of the Motion and she therefore proposed that the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism should be referenced in the Motion as follows: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed to Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” In discussing this proposal from Councillor Douglas, Members questioned whether this was an amendment. Instead, it was suggested that this provided clarification about the focus of the Motion, as originally worded.
Members subsequently discussed the Motion in further detail. In discussing the Motion, Councillor M. Middleton highlighted the need for the Council to demonstrate that it took a firm stance against antisemitism and that this form of prejudice had no place in society. Members were asked to recall the genocide that had taken place during the Holocaust in World War Two and the many millions of people from the Jewish community, as well as other communities, who had been murdered during this time as an example of the impact that antisemitism could have if it went unchallenged. Personal stories were shared about family and friends who had died in the Holocaust and a plea was made for this to never happen again. Councillor H. Rone-Clarke commented that there was a need to deal with cases of antisemitism in a dynamic manner. He noted that in his political activism he was opposed to all forms of prejudice, including antisemitism. In addition, Councillor P. McDonald highlighted that the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Groups had already adopted the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism at the national level. Members concluded by noting that the Overview and Scrutiny Board had launched an Equalities Task Group during the municipal year and it was important to demonstrate the Council’s commitment to equalities.
On being put to the vote the Motion was carried.
Councillor C. Hotham advised that he had contacted the Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulatory Services about the subject of Planning Enforcement prior to the meeting and had agreed to attend a meeting with the Portfolio Holder and Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure Services to discuss the matter further. In this context, Councillor Hotham withdrew his Motion on Planning Enforcement.
Parking Enforcement Around Schools
Councillor H. Rone-Clarke commented that, in light of information that he had received from the Leader that an Officer had been employed to undertake parking enforcement work around schools, he would be withdrawing the Motion.