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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 16:13 GMT
Communities urge action on riot reports
Oldham riots in the summer 2001
The riots in Oldham lasted for three nights
Social leaders in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford are calling for strong leadership, inter-racial solidarity, and economic action following reports into this summer's race disturbances.

Conclusions that there are "parallel lives" along ethnic lines, racial inflamation by outside groups, and economic factors have all been put forward in the documents.

In each of the three communities, grass-roots representatives felt these were issues which have to be addressed as soon as possible.

Ashid Ali, head of Oldham Bangladeshi Youth Association, said: "We need to act on the recommendations immediately, so we can tackle issues of segregation and misunderstanding.


We cannot live our separate lives in the same town, based on misunderstanding

Ashid Ali, Oldham

"We need to have better understanding of each other's communities rather than living our separate lives in the same town.

"Since the summer there have been improvements in the town between the authorities, the police, and the communities.

"However there is the element of the British National Party, which is threatening to stand in the next elections.

'Heightened tension'

"They have been part of the problem in stoking-up the trouble, heightening the tension between the communities.

"They should not be allowed to distribute their myths about the two communities.

"The two communities have a lot in common in terms of deprivation, in terms of housing, and education, crime, vandalism and unemployment. These issues have to be tackled as well.

"The people young people have to be given a voice, introducing youth facilities and tackling the high youth unemployment rates.


There are 90,000 to 100,000 people in this part of the county who have been cast adrift. There has got to be a way forward

Colin Dawber, Burnley

"There is a need to have a honest debate about race, we cannot live our separate lives in the same town, based on misunderstanding."

Oldham Council leader Richard Knowles said: "The council recognises there are real problems resulting from social exclusion and deprivation over many years in many parts of the borough.

"This is shared by areas with high-ethnic populations and many white council estates and inner areas."

Greater Manchester Police said: "We will be taking a thorough look at the recommendations and will take action where necessary to improve the service we provide."

Cast adrift

In Burnley community leaders said something must be done to eradicate the deprivation highlighted by their counterparts in Oldham.

Colin Dawber, of Duke Bar Community Action Group, said work needed to be done to tackle the problems in east Lancashire.

He said: "The disturbances showed the huge gap that is opening up between east Lancashire and the rest of the county, never mind the rest of the country.

"I was down in London recently and was amazed by the affluence.

"There are 90,000 to 100,000 people in this part of the county who have been cast adrift, there has got to be a way forward."

In Bradford there have been a number of reports into race relations in the city.


For there to be a change, there needs to be effective change from the top

Mohammed Amran, Bradford

Bradford Race Review's report was published in July 2001 by strategic partnership Bradford Vision, and drawn up by a team chaired by Sir Herman Ouseley.

That report concluded: "The district was once blessed with economic wealth and prosperity.

"But with the demise of the wool industry and the decline in manufacturing, the district has seen a slide in its fortunes.

"It has struggled to redefine itself as a modern, 21st Century, competitive, multi-cultural area and has lost its spirit of community togetherness.

"As a result, the Bradford district has witnessed growing divisions among its population along race, ethnic, religious and social class lines - and now finds itself in the grip of fear."

'Last chance'

And Mohammed Amran, of the city's Commission for Racial Equality, said the new reports presented a final opportunity to put things right in the borough.

He said: "I have seen a lot or reports being done about Bradford, including one by the commission.

"Other reports have been done by local people. This is going to be a last opportunity to implement these reports, as nothing has yet been done up to this moment in time.

"For there to be a change, there needs to be effective change from the top."

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


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11 Dec 01 | England
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