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2001: A town in crisis

Riot police approach a barricade in Oldham

In one of the worst moments in Greater Manchester's recent history, Oldham hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2001, as the town erupted into riots.

Across the second May Bank Holiday, 500 people were involved in the disorders, leaving damage which was estimated at a cost of £1.4m.

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Racial tension was originally blamed for the riots, but Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council disputed that, saying that poverty, deprivation and social exclusion were greater influences.

An independent review into the causes of the riots was led by top civil servant David Ritchie.

His report found that there were years of "deep-rooted" segregation between communities, which had failed to addressed by local authorities.

The report stated that there was a threat of "more serious" trouble in future unless action taken, saying that positive steps needed to be taken.

It suggested townspeople should see themselves as 'Oldhamers', that the council should try to mix ethnic groups in its accommodation, that faith schools should admit pupils of different religions, that the police structure should be more community-focused and that religious leaders should speak to the town as a whole, not just to their own faiths.

Five years on, another report said divisions between communities were still "entrenched" in Oldham, even though the town's residents felt race relations were improving.

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