Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

Community Cohesion Strategy gets the go ahead

by Ian Shires on 14 November, 2017

Walsall Councillors voted through a comprehensive new Community Cohesion Strategy at their meeting in the Council House last night.  

There has been a great deal of discussion about the Cohesion Strategy since its inception through the Scrutiny process in August 2015. I  want to take this opportunity to thank all those who played a part in developing this strategy, in particular those Officers who have supported the work and Councillor Nawaz, Councillor Craddock and Councillor Sohal who shared the Journey with me.

Extensive consultation took place both through the Working Group and through the development of the Cohesion Strategy.  Every part of our borough has been included.  The issue of Cohesion does not relate to a minority of individuals in one or two wards.  It relates to every part of the borough and all our communities.  As I have pointed out in the forward to the Strategy document “listening to our communities is a real passion for me”. Our communities are changing.  They come from different backgrounds, different faiths and influences.   We need to listen to what they have to say and learn from what we hear. The multi-cultural nature of our society is accelerating. This brings positive opportunities; but only if we accept our differences and work together will we achieve our goal of a better Walsall”.

The Challenge in building a cohesive society in Walsall is here right now and that challenge is growing.  130 languages are spoken in Walsall schools.  In some wards over 50% of our communities are from an ethnic background.  In contrast many wards are predominantly white.  This, I see as an opportunity…it’s not the threat that the far right sometimes suggest.  A cohesive and diverse society makes Walsall a great place to live and is welcomed.

Our Joint Administration has put in place the foundations for the future:

  • We have a budget that looks ahead longer than a year which enables Managers to think long term.
  • We have a corporate plan which has the Marmot Objectives at its very heart.
  • We are moving towards a locality model to deliver local services across the board.

This is the first Cohesion Strategy the Council has had.  I am extremely proud our Joint Administration has led the way.  This Strategy is also part of the foundations for a strong and cohesive Walsall.  Young people are key to our journey towards a Cohesive Walsall.

There are 8 key priorities in the Strategy ranging  from Challenging Myths, dealing with issues such as people living Parallel Lives, Extremism and Hate Crime, Indigenous and Minority Communities and the changing nature of our communities and the many different faiths there are. It looks at how we can tackle gender and diversity issues within the workplace. Each one of these plays a key part in the overall Strategy and will drive our work going forward.

We are at the start of the Journey, the journey will take time and patience…we won’t get instant results but we have to drive forward to ensure the agenda is not hijacked by those who wish to harm Walsall and the fantastic diverse community we have.

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