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Black History Month faces the axe

IT’S OVER: Council leaders say savage budget cuts means that celebrating historic events like the arrival of the Empire Windrush may come to an end

BLACK HISTORY month, one of the most important dates in the black community’s cultural calender has been scrapped by a number of local councils because of savage funding cuts.

Bromley Council in south London took the unprecedented decision to do away with the event and has introduced a Diversity Day instead.

John Bownas, spokesperson for Conservative controlled Croydon Council also confirmed it will not be holding Black History Month this year because of the financial crisis facing the whole country.

“Approximately £11,000 was spent on events and promotion in 2009/10. However, recently due to current financial pressures there (has) been a disbandment of the arts and culture service which was in charge of Black History Month” he said.

And Barnet, Haringey, Lewisham and Southwark Councils are among those who are either scaling down or planning to scrap the event because of tough financial constraints.

A spokesperson for Bromley Council said: “Diversity Day will take place on October 18 this year and is organised by Asian, Caribbean, and Somalian, Chinese and other community groups in partnership with the Bromley Council, NHS Bromley, the Metropolitan Police, schools and groups in the voluntary sector.”

Some £9,000 has been cut from the budget in Lewisham.

Alan Morrison, the project coordinator for Black History Month at Lewisham council told The Voice funding for black history has been cut from £14,700 last year to £5,000 this October.


A Barnet council employee who did not want to be named told The Voice the council “doesn’t promote black history and has not done so for several years.”

But it’s not all bad news. Sian Williams, at Islington council, said: “Our budget this year is £8,000 - the same as last year. We have commissioned the Islington BME forum to deliver a range of events - these will be publicised.”

At Enfield Council, Laura Berryman said: “We spent in the region of £3,000 both this year and last year for BHM.

It also works with libraries, youth centres and our Millfield Theatre, using the funds to support local groups that are staging events, producing a comprehensive leaflet and local advertising. Our library service engages leading poets and writers to lead discussions and read from their works.

“This year we are jointly marking Black History Month with the Enfield Racial Equality Council and there is a special event to unveil a commemorative plaque to mark the end of the slave trade.”

Just two councils outside London responded to The Voice’s questions about Black History Month. A Hertfordshire County Council spokeswoman said that while they did not have a set budget for the event, the council “has been and continues to support Black History Month.”

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said it spent £2100 in 2010 and will spend £2400 this year.

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