BRADFORD is “heading towards disaster” and the Council has allowed racial hatred and the perception of fear to “become a real problem”, the chairman of a scrutiny committee has warned.
Councillor Arshad Hussain, who chairs Bradford Council’s corporate overview and scrutiny committee, said there were”many areas in this city” where people were afraid to go, depending on their ethnicity.
Cllr Hussain (Lab, Toller) branded the situation a “horrible state of affairs” as the committee discussed a new report on community cohesion and how the Council’s diversity and cohesion team was working to strengthen community relations.
The report said the team was working with all religious groups and other organisations in its response to the Louise Casey report on opportunity and integration, which gives recommendations to the government.
But Cllr Hussain said the work being done by the team was not enough and said too many people were “scared to speak up in case they caused offence”.
He said: “Community relations in this city were a lot better 25 years ago. Are we really achieving what we are supposed to be achieving? I don’t think so. Last month on Bonfire Night in my ward, three pubs were stoned by Asian youths.”
The Red Lion and Round Thorn pubs, in Thornton Road, were among those targeted on November 5.
“These were the only white businesses in the area. No Asian businesses were attacked. They were targeted because they were white.” he added.
“I am really cheesed off with things like this. There are so many areas in this city where white people are scared to go into.
Likewise there are other areas where Asian people are scared to go into. That is a horrible state of affairs and it should never have got to this stage.
Perhaps you should start to do things in a different way. You tend to use the same organisations time and time again. Perhaps you should start delivering on the doorstep and getting new groups on board because I think we are heading towards disaster.
“There has been a huge increase in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Hate crime has risen threefold but the majority still is not reported. The biggest challenge for you is to acknowledge there is a problem, rather than being in denial and then work accordingly.”
Cllr Simon Cooke (Con, Bingley Rural) said: “At a recent event at the synagogue there were armed police posted outside. Is that an example of community cohesion that a Jewish event needed police protection? I think we are kidding ourselves.
I represent thousands of people who never come into Bradford and I am only five miles up the road. They say they don’t feel safe. That’s the reality. And I am sure there are people who live in Girlington who would prefer not to come to Cullingworth and I don’t like that. The perception of what Bradford is like is the problem. Mention danger drivers and who comes to mind?
“And integration. Both sides don’t want to integrate.”