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Black vote campaign gains ground

GETTING THERE: Campaigner Desmond Jaddoo hands over completed voter registration forms to Victoria Beavon, team leader at Birmingham Elections Office

DESMOND JADDOO, a steadfast campaigner in the national crusade to get the black community registered to vote hands over scores of completed forms to Birmingham’s Elections Office.

October 31 was the deadline for submitting forms in order to vote for the new Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) across the UK on Thursday November 15.

The black voting registration campaign had its national launch in Birmingham just over two weeks ago when Operation Black Vote director Simon Woolley took to the pulpit of the New Testament Church of God in Ladywood, known as The Rock.

He was backed by independent community activist Desmond Jaddoo, of the Birmingham Empowerment Forum and Bishop Dr Joe Aldred, secretary of Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs, Churches Together in England.

Jaddoo has continued to hand out and collect forms and advice those wishing to register. There are plans for monthly voter registration clinics to be set up in churches.

Campaign leaders want to see black churches taking a more active role in making sure their congregations are registered to vote. Suggestions include appointing ‘church champions’ to take responsibility for the role.

Bishop Dr Derek Webley, the former chair of West Midlands Police Authority, is currently standing as an independent candidate in the PCC elections.

Jaddoo said: “With the PCC elections now imminent, people are waking up to realise the importance of engaging in the political process and giving their vote a voice. We are not telling people how to vote, we are simply saying – use the power of your vote.”

He said by going into churches, campaigners had been able to connect not just with congregations, but the wider community and non-churchgoers.

Campaigners also have their sights set on the next General Election in May 2015 when they hope by then they will have galvanised the UK’s one-million strong black community to make sure they are registered.

Meanwhile the Big West Midlands PCC debate will be held at The Drum, Potters Lane, Aston between 6.30pm and 8.30pm on Wednesday November 7th when all seven PCC candidates will be present. Doors open at 6pm.

The candidates are: Cath Hannon (Ind); Mike Rumble (Ind); Derek Webley (Ind); Matt Bennett (Cons); Bob Jones (Lab); Ayoub Khan (Lib Dem); Bill Etheridge (UKIP).

Derek Webley will also be holding a ‘bring out the vote’ rally on Tuesday November 13 at the New Testament Church of God in George Street, Lozells.

For information on how to make sense of the voting forms you will see at the ballot box visit: www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/police_and_crime_commissioner1.aspx

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