Diversity motion supported

Green councillor Ian Baxter
Green councillor Ian Baxter

Midlothian Council has unanimously voted to support a motion by Green councillor Ian Baxter condemning xenophobia and hate crime.

The motion, put forward at the full council meeting last week, was seconded by Councillor Bryan Pottinger (Labour), the council’s equalities champion.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Baxter said: “Midlothian is a much more diverse community than it was when I arrived here 35 years ago – I have met many residents who originate not just from south of the border but from many European countries, Americans, Australians, indeed from all four corners of the world. I am also proud that we are now providing a safe refuge to some of those fleeing the utmost horrors of the conflict in Syria.

“In turn, more people brought up in Midlothian are moving beyond its borders, some permanently and some who return.

“Change can be unsettling and bring uncertainly, but Midlothian is also a tolerant community, welcoming everyone willing to contribute to our diversity and culture.

“However, we must not be complacent. Hate crimes in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland are up 20 per cent in July compared to a year ago.

“And although there is no reported increase in Scotland, there have been reports of isolated incidents of people abused on buses in Edinburgh and neo-Nazi stickers appearing in Glasgow.

“This motion was prompted by contact from a constituent, and is being presented as an opportunity for us to reaffirm our commitment to diversity in Midlothian, to reject messages of hate from wherever they come, and to reassure those from different backgrounds living and working in, or just visiting Midlothian, that they are welcome here.

“I am therefore very pleased to propose this motion, and thank Cllr Pottinger, Midlothian’s Equalities Champion, who has kindly agreed to second it.”