Ethnic groups urged to have say

MEMBERS of ethnic minority groups are being urged to attend a consultation meeting looking at the effects of budget cuts.

Hartlepool Borough Council officials want members of the town’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities to support a forthcoming consultation event.

Talking with Communities is an established forum used by the local authority to consult with minority ethnic communities which usually meets on a quarterly basis.

The next meeting is to be held on Wednesday, May 11 at 1pm in Grange Road Methodist Church (Tankerville Street entrance).

A key agenda item will be the council’s on-going review of consultation groups generally in the light of the budget cuts it is facing.

The Mail reported at the time of the budget announcement that Vijaya Kotur, who was the council’s principal diversity officer before being made redundant amid the cuts, warned the axing of her position could spell a step backwards for minority groups.

The authority’s assistant director (neighbourhood services), Denise Ogden, said: “Going forward, we might not be able to maintain all of our existing consultation groups.

“We want people to tell us what it is about the Talking with Communities group that works well and, maybe, what doesn’t work so well.

“This information will be vital in helping to determine the future shape of our consultation activities.”

Around 150 invitations to the Talking with Communities event have already been sent out to people that the council has previously had contact with. But officials are keen to stress that other people are welcome too.

Anyone wishing to attend should contact Lisa Woodward at the council on (01429) 523297.