CIVIC chiefs have denied claims that Southampton City Council ruled out plans for a race advice centre - but campaigners are looking for new supporters.

Civic chiefs in the city said the council "isn't ruling anything out" and continues to look at solutions to fight racism.

But campaigners, who last month called on the authority to set up a race advice centre, said they are now looking for new support as they claimed the city council did not discuss the proposals with them.

As reported, last month Don John and Jay Shah, directors of Positive Message Limited, asked the council to set up an independent centre where victims of racial abuse would receive face-to-face support.

The appeal followed the death of African-American man George Floyd.

The city council said it welcomes engagement with campaigners and said the leader of council contacted Positive Message Limited in June.

But Mr John claimed that after an initial email in which the council leader allegedly told campaigners about the services already available in the city, civic chiefs did not show any further interest and did not reply to further emails sent by the group.

Mr John said: "At least we thought they would come to us and talk about what they can do to help.

"They basically said 'we have everything in place, we know what we are doing'. We just want to have a conversation on how we create a circumstance that when people have an issue of race they can have that resolved. An advice centre seems a solution.

" They might have a solution that is a bit better but they didn't even want a conversation."

Mr John said Positive Message Limited is now looking for other groups to support them.

But Cllr Dave Shields, cabinet member for stronger communities at the city council, said: "These allegations are false, however, we would welcome constructive engagement with Positive Message ltd, and would ask them to get involved in the substantial work we are already doing to tackle racism.

"Any claims made by Mr John that we have not engaged with them on this are not accurate. The Leader of the Council wrote to them directly on 11 June to address the points they raised, and has been in touch with them since.

"As has been communicated to Mr John, we have not discounted a Race Advice Centre, but we are quite rightly engaging with the wider black and minority ethnic communities and others on what they feel would be the most effective approach to tackling racism.

"We are going to take the time needed to listen to, engage and act with our BAME communities to ensure we're working towards meaningful change - not rushed solutions.

"As we’ve previously stated, we're not ruling anything out."