ALLERDALE council has unanimously condemned “racist hatred” after a Syrian refugee was verbally abused in front of her children in Workington town centre.

Joan Ellis, Labour councillor for Cockermouth’s Christchurch ward, raised the motion at full council in a bid to help stamp out hate crime in the borough.

Speaking at a meeting of the full council, she set out the borough’s long and proud history of welcoming people from all over the world, particularly those fleeing war, poverty, famine and persecution.

She said: “For centuries West Cumbrians have welcomed people from all around the world – from Ireland, escaping famine; kinder(transport) children escaping the holocaust in Czechoslovakia; people from Chernobyl desperate for a holiday; people from Cambodia and Vietnam escaping oppression; from Pakistan and Bangladesh escaping poverty; and, more recently, refugees from Syria fleeing war.

“The vast majority of local people have opened their arms and their homes to help and support these people to create a new and safer life in our communities.

“It is therefore disturbing and shocking to hear of this cowardly alleged hate crime in Workington perpetrated against a young woman with a baby and a toddler; refugees from Syria.

“Appreciation goes to the two women who intervened, offered protection and rang the police. We must stamp out any racism and racial hatred in our area. We must offer protection and maintain out friendliness, hospitality and our neighbourliness.

“In our community it is not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist. We must embrace ethnicity and learn from diversity. This area and local people will be richer for it.”

Speaking out in support of the motion, council leader Marion Fitzgerald said that council had a “long history” of supporting social justice and fairness”, with these values enshrined in the authority’s policies.

In July 2016, Coun Fitzgerald brought a motion calling upon the council to condemn racism, xenophobia and hate crimes “unequivocally”.

In March this year, then councillor Billy Miskelly brought a motion calling on the council to reaffirm and develop its responsibility to provide an environment free from unfair treatment, harassment, bullying and victimisation and other forms of illegal discrimination against disabled persons.

And in September of last year, then councillor Adrian Davis-Johnston brought a motion asking for the council to follow the example of the UK Government by adopting in full the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of antisemitism.

Police had confirmed that a man was arrested after a woman and two children were subjected to racial abuse in Workington town centre. It happened while they were walking along Murray Road at about 3.25pm on July 1.

The slightly amended wording of the motion agreed in a recorded vote by all 40 councillors in attendance read:

(The) Council notes with abhorrence the recent alleged reported incident of racist abuse and hate crime in Murray Road, Workington and conveys best wishes to the victims of the attack, and condemns those who bring racist hatred onto our streets.

“Council confirms that it will work with the police and other agencies to counter hate crime wherever it appears in our area’.