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The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"There was criticism that no-one of Asian origin was in the delegation"
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Thursday, 14 June, 2001, 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK
Race riot town gets action plan
Fire engine during Oldham riots
Racial tensions have been running high in Oldham
Police, local politicians and Home Office ministers have agreed a "three-point plan" to help Oldham recover from its problems.

The Greater Manchester town has been the scene of rising racial tensions, culminating in riots last month.

The plan was thrashed out at a meeting at the Home Office between new Home Secretary David Blunkett, and a high-level delegation from the town.

Three-point plan
Local plan of action within 4 months
Refocused funding
Local forums to restore confidence
Michael Meacher, Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton, described the meeting as "extremely positive".

He said the first part of the plan was for a local action programme to be prepared in Oldham, within the next four months.

Secondly, funding would be refocused borough-wide, to address perceived lack of fairness and ensure all communities benefit.

And thirdly, local forums - involving local police authorities, business leaders, and leaders of the white and Asian communities - would be established to rebuild confidence.

Oldham West & Royton MP Michael Meacher
Michael Meacher: Lessons must be learned
"If we can do all that in the next three to six months, there is real hope for the people of Oldham," said Mr Meacher.

He said there had been detailed analysis of the rioting and its underlying causes at the meeting.

"But the most important thing is there is a positive strategy as to how we can prevent this happening again."

The meeting was criticised on Thursday after it emerged there were no members of the Asian community in the delegation.

Further meetings

But Mr Meacher said: "This is a delegation composed of the three MPs, with the leaders of the two political parties, and all of those happen to be white.

"But of course there are going to be further meetings, and of course all of these forums, the action programme, is fully going to involve Asian people."

The government, across departments, is prepared to provide support and independent advice in this process

David Blunkett
He added that it had been agreed Home Office minister Angela Eagle would visit Oldham this week or next.

Council leader Richard Knowles said: "When the minister comes to Oldham, we intend to make sure she meets a range of people across the communities."

And deputy mayor of Oldham Riaz Ahmed said: "To me it's not important who goes into the meeting.

"What's important is what comes out of the meeting, and I'm very satisfied as to what that meeting has achieved."

In a statement, Mr Blunkett said: "Today has been a valuable opportunity to hear at first hand a detailed assessment of the situation in Oldham following the recent disturbances."

Riot police arrest a man in Oldham, Greater Manchester, Monday 28 May
Gangs of white and Asian youths have clashed
He said he was pleased that local people could develop solutions to the problems they faced.

"The government, across departments, is prepared to provide support and independent advice in this process."

Greater Manchester Chief Constable David Wilmot also described the meeting as "positive".

He added: "Most of the problems in the Oldham area are well catalogued. There are racial problems, economic and social problems, that need to be looked at on a borough-wide basis."

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08 Jun 01 | Vote2001
BNP prompts Oldham concern
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