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Wednesday, October 27, 1999 Published at 01:22 GMT 02:22 UK


UK

Labour warned against 'village myth'

Researchers called for better management of "mixed estates"

People who live on estates which mix private and council housing rarely get together socially, a report has said.

Research shows that such estates may not promote social includsion. Many living in private housing do not even know the name of one person in council housing on their estate, the report by left-wing think-tank Demos states.

It surveyed 1,000 residents on mixed esates over an 18-month period and found that 17% did not feel they could ask for help from someone in a different type of housing from themselves.

The report, Living Together, says "merely mixing private and social housing will rarely foster contact between different groups".

However, it found that most people were happy about living on a mixed estate.

'Village-life dream'

The Labour party is committed to the idea of an inclusive local community and wants to end the ghettoisation caused by isolating deprived families on council estates.

But Demos says it has to abandon its "dream of local 'village life' and be more realistic about the diversity of modern communities".

It says its research shows only 40% of people spend any of their social time with other estate residents.

For those who had lived there for between three and five years only a third knew the names of more than 15 other estate residents.

Few met other residents in pubs or shops. Schools were by far the most important local social institution.

Community centres did bring people together, but very few used them.

'Set common rules'

However, Demos says integrating people from council and private housing at street level can avoid creating "stigmatised mini-ghettos" and encourage more integrated communities.

On one estate with mixed streets, nearly 40% of residents knew five others with a different tenure arrangment.

The researchers called for better management of mixed estates, including setting common rules which take all sectors of the community into account, supporting individuals or small groups who will deal with problems as they arise and promoting locally-based policing.

Author Ben Jupp said: "Mixing private and social housing on the same estate often has advantages.

"But let's not think that by itself such mixing will usually create an inclusive community."



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