New equalities chair makes justice, fairness and diversity his main priorities

Councillor Richard Jones, Deputy Mayor of Sandwell and Lead Member for Oldbury Town, has been appointed as chair of Sandwell Equalities Commission. Councillor Jones replaces the former chair, Councillor Ahmad Bostan. Councillor Bostan stepped down from the role as he is now Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for the environment and commission members need to be none executive members.

The commission celebrates and promotes the rich, diverse backgrounds and cultures of residents and workers in all six towns, and promotes fairness and equality across the council and the borough.

Councillor Jones, who has represented Old Warley ward since May 2019, said: “I am honoured to have been asked to chair the Sandwell Equalities Commission.

As a gay man and a proud advocate for LGBT+ equality I was already pleased to have a representative place on the commission and have been a member since its inception. “One of my main priorities as chair of the Equalities Commission will be that equality, justice, fairness and diversity are always at the forefront of our decision making, our policies and how we present ourselves as a council to the world. “With the help and hard work of the other members of the commission and officers of Sandwell Council, we can address difficult questions and make some real change. “I want to celebrate the diversity of Sandwell, making it a place where we create opportunities for all to flourish and enable people to live peacefully in an accepting place.

We must continue to challenge discrimination and prejudice. Equality should not be requested, it should be expected! With everyone’s help together we can stamp hate out!” Sandwell Equalities Commission was established in November 2020 to promote equality, and challenge discrimination and intolerances in all its forms within the borough. It seeks to break down barriers prohibiting an inclusive society by tackling unfairness caused by inequality, and encourages community cohesion through increased understanding and awareness.

The commission's work forms the cornerstone of equalities, diversity standards and best practice to which Sandwell Council's services, policies, procedures and work strive to adhere to. Councillor Jones said: “The commission enables us to have a fundamental look at what equalities and diversity mean for Sandwell, how inequalities and discrimination are addressed and where we can make improvements for the benefit of all Sandwell residents, particularly in light of recent events such as the Me Too initiative and Black Lives Matter movement. “As this year’s Black History Month draws to a close, I want to acknowledge the work and achievements of residents and colleagues in supporting this important initiative, for organising the celebrations and events that honour the too-often unheralded accomplishments of Black Sandwellians in every area of endeavour.”

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