A race equality panel will be set up as part of efforts to tackle the “deep-seated inequalities” in Bath and North East Somerset.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the global Black Lives Matter movement that followed, the council has voted to stand in solidarity with protesters to challenge structural racism.
Members have recognised their own privilege and shared stories of when they and loved ones have been discriminated against.
Leading a motion at the full council meeting on 23rd July, Councillor Grant Johnson said: “We aren’t the most diverse authority in the UK and we use that as a way of not taking equality issues as seriously as we should.
“We need to stand up and support communities, no matter how small, and ensure they are not left behind.
“It’s really important we all stand together as a council on this.”
In a passionate speech seconding the motion, Cllr Dr Kumar, the council’s advocate for BME issues, said: “Racism remains a sinful aspect of our town and elsewhere and must be confronted.
“Many people are made to feel that they do not belong here. Last year when helping my own residents and I was assaulted and told to ‘go back to your country’.
“Bath is our town, this is our country.
“Five years ago when I was with a Chinese friend a woman should ‘go back, don’t make Bath another Leicester or Manchester’.
“Thirteen years ago my wife was discriminated against by a corporate conglomerate. I took them to court and they had to pay compensation for indirect racial discrimination.
“Bath is beautiful not only because of the colourful gardens and flowers but because of the colourful people it has.”
Cllr Shaun Stephenson-McGall told the meeting he grew up in Pakistan and when he returned to the UK he lived in a council house next to a family of Vietnamese boat people, who had come over after the Vietnam war.
He said: “I saw the inequality and the racism that people had towards them and it’s important that all of us in this council chamber become advocates and allies of people whose skin colour isn’t the same as our own.
“You don’t need to think of an escape mechanism if the police speak to you if you’re white, but you do sometimes if the colour of your skin is different.
“All of us need to redouble our efforts.”
Cllr Eleanor Jackson described racism as an “insidious cancer eating away at our society” but said the hurt it can cause can be difficult for “white middle-class people like me” to understand.
Cllr Karen Warrington said she was married to an Egyptian and did not get interviews when she used his surname.
Cllr Paul Myers said: “Racism in any form is pernicious and abhorrent oppression and enslavement of minority or weaker groups has been prevalent throughout the centuries and sadly and shamefully it’s still evident across the globe today
“Whilst we can’t change the entire world we can and must work together to play our part for residents and visitors.
“My colleagues and I in the conservative group wish to confirm our determination to drive out any oppression and racism. This is a message we should shout from the rooftops.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter