Young people from across the West Midlands will gather next week for a groundbreaking youth conference on hate crime.
Final arrangements for the conference are being put in place following a meeting of the campaign organisation West Midlands Together.
The event will take place from 10am to 2pm on Friday February 2 at Birmingham City University's Curzon Building, with participants travelling from schools and colleges across the region.
They will perform dance pieces, music, songs, prose, poetry and sketches which they have created to celebrate mutual respect and racial harmony, and to explore concerns over hate crime.
There is also a competition for the best poster design to promote an anti-hate message.
Louise White, Commissioning Officer for West Mercia's Police and Crime Commissioner, has arranged for a number of people to speak about their personal experience of hate crime.
West Midlands Together is a cross-party campaign launched by regional MEPs Anthea McIntyre and Neena Gill following a sharp increase in incidents of hate crime following the Brexit referendum.
Other organisations taking part will be Hope not Hate, Unite the union which has also sponsored catering, and First Class Legacy which specialises in youth and community engagement.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "The response from schools and colleges to our invitation to take part has been phenomenal.
"The youngsters involved have really thrown themselves into preparing their messages and performances and it's going be really exciting when it all comes together."
"We expect it to be colourful, loud, lively and inspirational - everything young people are about - but with a serious message at the heart of things about tolerance, fairness and humanity."
Education establishments taking part will include Smestow School, Wolverhampton; Nishkam High School, Birmingham; Wednesfield High School, Sandwell; Eden Boys School, Aston; Hillcrest Shifnal School, Shropshire; Harborne Academy, Birmingham; South and City College, Birmingham; Bishop Vesey School, Sutton Coldfield; and Shireland College, Smethwick.
There is still time to register if you wish to attend. Go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/west-midlands-together-youth-conference-tickets-41281595363
Late settlement of invoices may be a nuisance to big business - but to smaller enterprises it can be a crippling or even fatal.
That was the message from a meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels where MEPs were briefed on the problem.
Anthea McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "As someone who has run a small business for twenty five years, I know only too well that larger companies can be blind to the problems of small and micro businesses, who do not have the cash resources to wait for payment or the human resources to chase late payers."
She was speaking after hearing a presentation from the Federation of Small Businesses, which is calling for a culture change across bigger companies to cut out supply-chain bullying and prioritise prompt payment.
The Federation is proposing a range of measures to address the issue, including a requirement for all FTSE 350 companies to sign up to a Prompt Payment Code and greater powers for the Small Business Commission to challenge culprits.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said:
"We have to realise that in many small businesses the managing director is also the accounts manager, HR manager, health and safety officer and credit controller.
"The real working week is spent finding new customers and delivering goods and services. The admin - including checking who has settled their invoice - has to wait until evenings and weekends."
"The impact of late payment can be absolutely crippling - in terms of both money and time wasted in chasing payment. In the worst cases such cash flow problems can spell the end for a small or fledgling company.
"Bigger concerns need to step up and make sure they look after their smaller suppliers instead of driving them to despair by dawdling over payment."
Anthea McIntyre has welcomed today's announcement that Birmingham will host the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
The Conservative MEP for the West Midlands said: "I want to congratulate Andy Street and the whole of the bid team for bringing the games to the region.
"It will put us on the international stage and show the world what a wonderful place this is - not just for sport but for culture, industry, education and commerce.
"The games will benefit the whole of the city region and beyond, as well as Birmingham itself. I for one cannot wait to watch the spectacle with pride."
The problem of preserving the wild relatives of crop species as a vital gene bank was highlighted in the European Parliament at a special hearing of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee.
The hearing in Brussels was organised by committee member Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, and featured a key note address by Dr. Nigel Maxted, senior lecturer at Birmingham University and an expert in conservation techniques.
He highlighted the huge value of crop wild relatives (CWRs) as a source of genetic improvement through cross-breeding for traits such as pest-resistance and yield-improvement in existing crop species.
But he said climate change and habitat loss had left wild relatives increasingly under threat - and they were being poorly conserved. Nearly half of the hotspots where valuable CWRs were endangered were in Europe, he said, and although conservation responses had been formulated they were rarely implemented.
Dr Maxted stressed: "If we want to use CWRs in the future we have to conserve them now.
"We need a full programme of diversity conservation, integrated at local, national, international and global level."
Miss McIntyre, whose successful parliamentary report on Agricultural Technology last year highlighted the importance of genetic diversity, said the hearing had exceeded all her expectations.
She said: "There is a very direct link between food security and bio-diversity.
"I wonder whether the stewardship section of the Common Agricultural Policy should be adapted specifically to encourage the conservativation of CWRs. This seems like a positive way to incentivise farmers to make a difference."
Other speakers included Susanne Barth, research associate at Trinity College, Dublin, and Nicolas Roux, genetic resources conservationist at Biodiversity International.
News of an agreement between the EU and UK has been welcomed by Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands.
She said: "These talks have been hard going - but that is the nature of negotiations, especially on something so significant.
"The Prime Minister has persevered and shown the mental toughness to find a way through. I think she has displayed stamina and astuteness - the two qualities you need in talks in Brussels about anything.
"People can be confident in the Theresa May’s promise: 'Whether you voted Leave or Remain, I am determined to deliver an outcome that works in the best interests of everyone across the United Kingdom.'
"Now at last the negotiation can start looking forwards instead of backwards - at the way we work together in future instead of the divorce terms.
"Things won't get any easier, but now we can start talking about building a mutually prosperous future."
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