Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Saturday, 1 August 2009 16:10 UK

'Far-right' areas to be targeted

BNP election rosette
The BNP won two seats in European elections earlier this year

White working-class areas will be targeted by the government in a bid to counter far-right extremism.

Communities secretary John Denham said about 100 council wards in England would be indentified for the scheme.

Measures could include meetings for residents to express concerns about immigration and ensuring councils are transparent about housing allocation.

The initiative comes after the British National Party won two seats at the European Parliament elections in June.

'Edges of society'

Mr Denham said: "The steady creep of extremism is fed by groups that seek to manipulate people's fears, spread lies and increase misunderstanding.

"This pushes people to the edges of society, creating a 'them and us' mentality that left unchecked will undermine and weaken our core values of tolerance, decency and fairness.

"We will bring a new focus in the toughest areas where the challenges are most acute and make sure unfairness, whether real or perceived, is tackled."

He added: "We will work across government to ensure that these communities are able to influence and access the opportunities which could make a real difference to their lives, in order to help address their concerns and allay their fears."

Immigration system

The Communities and Local Government department said it would pinpoint the areas to be involved through statistics such as crime and unemployment, survey results, and anecdotal "soft intelligence".

Other steps include:

  • Bringing together members of different ethnic communities in places where there is segregation
  • Using the government's £1bn Future Jobs Fund to provide employment and work experience for young people
  • Improving relations with community leaders who can highlight residents' concerns to local councils
  • Promoting help already available to people on employment, housing, childcare, education, youth services, anti-social behaviour and healthcare

The government will also highlight its points-based immigration system, introduced last year to try to control migration levels better.

BNP leader Nick Griffin was elected for the North West region in the European poll and the party's Andrew Brons picked up a seat in Yorkshire and Humber.

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