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EDITIONS
Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Bradford: Life behind the riots
The Atkins family from Fagley, Bradford
The Atkins family feel their area is under-resourced
With racial unrest dominating the news about Bradford, what is day-to-day life like in the city?

In the first of a series profiling the experience of different communities, BBC News Online's community affairs reporter Cindi John spoke to the Atkins family from Fagley.

"Over the last 10-15 years, things have declined. There's nothing for kids to do any more apart from hang about on streets."

This is how David Atkins summed up Fagley, the predominantly white working class district in north Bradford where he has lived for most of his 53 years.


It seems to me the only way you get things done is riot...that's the message that's coming down to the estates

David Atkins
Mr Atkins, a former builder who gave up work due to ill-health, lives on the estate with his wife Ann and three of their four children.

"The main problem is drugs, a lot of people are taking drugs on the estate. There's a lot of vandalism, stolen cars, motorbikes, just a general lack of responsibility," said Mr Atkins.

Mr Atkins said that although the area was certainly deprived it was not bad by Bradford standards - but it suffered from a lack of places for young people to go.

'Parks off-limits'

The Atkins' eldest daughter, 26-year-old Helen, lives nearby with her two young children.

She said life as a single mother was made harder by the fact that some young people had made places like parks "virtually off limits".

"You can't take young children there because the older ones are smashing bottles.

"I find myself stuck in the house most of the time with the children in the back garden because it's easier," she said.


It's up to the Asian population to help us and integrate with us. At the end of the day it's our country

David Atkins
Her 12-year-old brother Brendan also complained of problems with older children.

"I never go up to the shop because there are gangs up there and they don't let you into the shop and chase you around," he said.

Helen believed "a lot more police and a lot more people trying to get on with each other" was the answer.

But she was sceptical of things changing in the near future.

'Don't riot, don't get'

Mr Atkins, who is chairman of a Fagley residents group, said he has campaigned hard to improve life on the estate.

But he complained of obstacles being put in the way of them getting money to improve facilities - in particular the community centre.

Shot of Fagley estate - quiet street and houses
Fagley: "Not bad by Bradford standards" but lacks facilities for young people
And he was bitter at what he saw as the unfair division of resources favouring Asian areas.

He said the predominantly Asian area of Manningham had received about 8m for regeneration after the riots there six years ago.

"Now they've rioted again are they going to get more money, is it all going to go to them again and we're going to lose out on the estates?" he asked.

Mr Atkins believed there was a link between that, and the "wanton vandalism" of disturbances which followed in areas such as Fagley and Ravenscliffe.

He said: "It seems to me the only way you get things done is riot and they'll do any thing they can for you.

"If you don't riot, you don't get anything. And that's the message that's coming down to the estates."

'It's our country'

Both Mr and Mrs Atkins said few Asians lived in Fagley.

Mr Atkins said he thought that was a sign they were reluctant to mix with other races.

He said: "It's up to the Asian population to help us and integrate with us. At the end of the day it's our country."

External shot of Fagley Community Centre
Fagley Community Centre: Are resources unfairly distributed in Bradford?
But Ann Atkins believed racial harassment had put some black and Asian people off living on the estate.

She cited the recent case of one white woman with mixed race children.

"She lived on her own but she had half-caste children and she was practically driven off really by the estate children.

"They'd throw bricks, they wouldn't leave her alone."

But Helen believed there was little racism on the estate and that it had more to do with a community suspicious of outsiders.

She said she had also had problems when she moved back to the estate after two years living elsewhere.

"They gave me a lot of grief till they realised I wasn't new and left me alone."

Find out more about the violence in northern England during the summer of 2001


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See also:

10 Jul 01 | UK Education
09 Jul 01 | UK Politics
01 Jul 01 | UK
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