Councillors will discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and the impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities at a meeting this week.

Barnet’s Labour Group will ask the council to respond to these issues and ensure measures are in place to improve public health, racial equality and community cohesion in the borough.

A report by Public Health England published in early June revealed the risk of dying among those diagnosed with Covid-19 is higher in those in BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) groups than in white ethnic groups.

The report showed people of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity had between a 10 per cent and 50 per cent higher risk of death when compared to white British people.

Concerns over racial inequality have also come to the fore following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Many protesters have rallied in support of Black Lives Matter – a human rights movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.

The issues will be discussed at a meeting of the policy and resources committee on Wednesday (June 17).

Labour leader Cllr Barry Rawlings (Coppetts) called for “a robust strategy and action plan to deal with structural inequality and racism that may be causing or contributing to the disproportionate deaths amongst BAME communities”.

At a local level, the Labour leader suggested the council could tackle some of the underlying health conditions – such as diabetes – that disproportionately affect BAME communities and lead to a greater risk of death from Covid-19.

He said public health teams could do more outreach work at places of worship, as part of a more “proactive” approach to addressing problems.

Cllr Rawlings added that the Labour Group would ask for the council’s response to concerns about racial inequality and community cohesion following the death of George Floyd.

“We support the Labour Party’s call for the suspension of exports of riot control equipment to the US pending a review of whether they are being used in response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in US cities,” he said.

“We stand in solidarity with black citizens of the United States, and with all our black brothers and sisters worldwide, in our shared vision to see an end to violence, racism and discrimination against black people.”

Council leader Cllr Dan Thomas (Conservative, Finchley Church End) said: “I welcome the members’ items from the Labour Group which bring up some important topics, much of which will be covered in the recovery paper discussed during the committee next week.

“Regarding health concerns for different communities, this is absolutely something we are looking into and must continue to, along with finding new ways to engage with residents across the borough in light of the Covid crisis.

“Every year we run campaigns to raise public awareness of diabetes. Around 500 people in the UK die prematurely every week because of diabetes, and the fact that half of those with the condition do not realise that they have it clearly shows that raising awareness can save lives. While the way that we raise awareness of diabetes across Barnet this year might be different, it is something we will continue to do.

“I am also proud that we are a national pilot and good practice site for Covid test-and-trace, and we are leading on best practice support for care settings and BAME communities. As noted, the Public Health England report states that those from BAME communities are twice as likely to die if they catch Covid. This is a horrifying statistic that must be investigated further and tackled immediately.

“I appreciate any suggestion that members have to help all of the communities across Barnet. We are working hard to ensure that every Barnet resident is kept safe, using evidence and not anecdotes to make decisions.”

The policy and resources committee will be livestreamed from 7pm. Details of how to access the meeting are available here: