‘Riots’ report calls for cohesion plans

Bradford, Burnley and Oldham Councils will
have to publish plans for promoting community cohesion by next
April, and all councils should develop a relevant strategy as part
of their community plans, following the release of a Home Office
report into riots in these areas during the summer.

The Community Cohesion Review Team, chaired by
former Nottingham Council chief executive Ted Cantle, has made
almost 70 recommendations to improve community cohesion.

The team was particularly struck by the depth
of polarisation between the various white and ethnic minority
communities. This was compounded by other divisions, such as
separate educational arrangements, differing community and
voluntary bodies, and separate social and cultural networks. The
result was that communities do not seem to touch at any point, let
alone overlap and promote any meaningful interchanges, says the

It also points to a “failure to communicate”,
which is “compounded by the lack of honest and robust debate, as
people ‘tiptoe around’ the sensitive issues of race, religion and

In addition, it criticises neighbourhood
renewal and regeneration strategies for a confusing “plethora of
initiatives”, and perceived unfairness in the allocation of funds,
as well as forcing communities to bid against each other.

Also blamed is a lack of local leadership. The
report calls on the Local Government Association to prepare best
practice guidance to help councils promote community cohesion.

Meanwhile, ethnic minority groups have
criticised comments by home secretary David Blunkett this week
about people from ethnic minorities needing to adopt British “norms
of acceptability”.

Sandy Buchan, chief executive of Refugee
Action, said: “A broad brush requirement that members of ethnic
minority communities conform to British ‘cultural norms’ will not
address the underlying problems they face, such as poverty, racial
harassment and violence and discrimination.”

– Community Cohesion and Building Cohesive
Communities available from the Home Office at www.homeoffice.gov.uk

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