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On Saturday 17th January, black, Asian and ethnic minority councillors from across Britain will gather in Mancheste...
On Saturday 17th January, black, Asian and ethnic minority councillors from across Britain will gather in Manchester for a major national conference. Held at Manchester Town Hall, this is the second annual convention of the National Association of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Councillors. The conference will discuss ways to ensure that Britain's black and ethnic minority communities have a stake in the nation's future and how local councillors can support this.

The convention aims to provide a national forum for promoting race equality through local and central government and to champion key issues and opportunities in this area. Amongst other issues, councillors will discuss ways to develop black leadership and to ensure that regeneration schemes work for all ethnic minorities.

Amongst the special speakers will be international guests including Walter Field, political consultant to the UK Democratic Party; and Sunera Thobani, past president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, Canada. Various MEPs and MPs will also be speaking including Keith Vaz, Bernie Grant and Martin Slater. Also addressing the convention will be leading local authority chief executives including Haringey LBC's Gurbeux Singh and Carol Hassan from Watford BC; and senior figures from the commission for Racial Equality including Bob Purkiss, a commissioner. A European councillor will also be attending with the aim of building international networks to improve race equality.

Manchester City Council leader Richard Leese said: 'It is with great pleasure that we welcome the convention to Manchester. This is only its second national meeting and we are very proud to host it. Manchester has a thriving black and ethnic minority community which makes an enormous contribution to the city as a whole a sell as supplying us with first class councillors. With the help of a number of committed councillors and community leaders the city has worked very hard to put itself on the UK & European map as a welcoming, progressive and exciting place for all to live and work.'

Cllr Yomi Mambu, Manchester's lead spokesperson on black and ethnic minority issues, said: 'There is still a lot of work to do in the field of racial equality. Amongst other issues the convention wants to contribute to the debate to strengthen the Race Relations Act and the Human Rights Commission. Local councillors are vital in this - for we are both in close touch with what is happening at the grassroots in the communities we represent - and we are in a position to build alliances and partnerships beyond them. We also have the opportunity to influence central government.'

The event is sponsored by British Airways; CVS Consultancy Services to the Voluntary Sector, the Local Government Information Unit; the legal firm Ashurst, Morris, Crisp; and Manchester City Council. The programme has been co-ordinated on behalf of the national association by Hounslow LBC.

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