Headlines: March 12th, 2001

Local councils have been warned by their own organisation to modernise more quickly ahead of the responsibilities faced in the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.The call from the Local Government Association (LGA), has come after compiling a report to build a picture of where councils are in their responses to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

Many of the recommendations for action in the Lawrence report are expected to become a legal duty in the new Act. The new law’s biggest change is to create a new active duty to check policies and services for racism, rather than expect to tackle it when found.

Paved with Good Intentions? reveals that too many have failed to respond with sufficient vigour to the Lawrence Report.

It found that only about half of all councils know how many black and ethnic minority staff they employ and most have failed to review their policies to examine levels of potential or actual racial discrimination disadvantage and harassment.

Writing to all local authority members and chief executives, the LGA has urged councils to use its survey findings as an opportunity to take stock of what they had achieved so far and what else they need to do.

It is suggesting that elected members should use the new scrutiny process, part of the modernisation of their own working arrangements, to check on their council’s performance.

Copies of a summary of Paved with Good Intentions? Can be found at www.lga.gov.uk