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Funding axe contrasts with increased cash for other projects

Concern is mounting about City Hall funding cuts to BME events

An online petition to demand that London mayor Boris Johnson reinstates funding for Black History Month is growing apace.

The website Not The Headline News has organised a petition calling for the 92% reduction in BHM cash to be reversed.

The mayor’s decision to cut City Hall’s BHM funding from £100,000 to less than £10,000 has contrasted with Johnson’s decision to increase funding for ‘America Day’ up to £100,000, and also boost the support for St George’s Day, which now enjoys a £136,000 annual budget.

The London Development Agency – part of the mayor’s empire – has axed its’ £100,000 grant for Africa Day, including the ‘Black Scholars’ schools competition. This follows a decision last April to scrap the RISE free anti-racism music festival, set up in memory of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence.

OBV Blog’s attempts to find out the fate of the slavery statue, planned for Hyde Park, have drawn a blank. There appears to be no evidence of any progress in moves to erect this monument since it was announced by Johnson in 2008.

So far has been the only contribution City Hall have made towards Slavery Memorial Day – 28th August – which the previous mayor Ken Livingstone promised would be properly marked each year.

Fears are growing that the slashing of Black History Month funding will send negative signals to London’s local authorities, who may follow the mayor’s example and axe local funding for BHM events.

In August last year, the deputy mayor Richard Barnes appeared to slap down Conservative councillor Harry Phibbs who wrote what appeared to be a blueprint for cutting the various equalities initiatives set up by Labour mayor Livingstone.

But the latest cuts to BHM funding suggest that Phibbs’ model for rolling back BME projects and festivals may be in the process of being implemented. We will endeavour to find out.

LH

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