Norfolk’s race equality council folds after 18 years

The Norwich and Norfolk Racial Equality Council has folded after 18 years, after making a net loss of �42,000 in the last financial year and becoming 'unsustainable'.

However, its chairman said there was a glimmer of light for the future as it would meet again to discuss what happens next.

Olu Ogunnowo, who was elected chairman of the NNREC last year, confirmed that members had taken the decision to dissolve the council, which was mainly funded by local authorities across the county, at a meeting last week.

He said: 'It's become unsustainable. It is sad because it's been going for about 18 years. In that time it has made an incredible contribution to the equality project around the county and collectively we have made giant strides.

'But with no local authorities prepared to commit any funding in the next financial year, and the fact we made a net loss of �42,000 last year, it's difficult to make plans for the future.

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'However, the appetite was still there at the meeting for people to work together more effectively and we are having another meeting of the council's trustees this week to see where we go from here.'

He also cited the introduction of the Equality Act, which replaced previous legislation such as the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and extended some protections to groups not previously covered, as a reason for its demise.

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'The whole agenda of equality has to change in conformity with the changes in the Race Relations Act,' he added. While he admitted that the equality council might have made some mistakes in allocating funding to the wrong projects, there was no suggestion of any financial irregularity.

Two people have been made redundant.

John Birchall, a spokesman for Norfolk County Council, said that no decision had been made to withdraw funding to the equality council, which is based at the Shirehall in Market Avenue, Norwich.

'What happens next is in the trustees' hands,' he said.

Bert Bremner, county council representative on the NNREC, said: 'It's a terribly sad situation. The organisation was having trouble financially, although that was not due to a lack of funding from local authorities.'

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