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BRADFORD 'HID TRUTH ABOUT RACISM'

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Damning reports into race relations in Bradford were suppressed by local government officers after riots, involving...
Damning reports into race relations in Bradford were suppressed by local government officers after riots, involving Asian youths, rocked the city this year, according to The Observer (News and sports section, p2).

Two reports, drawn up before the July riots, are highly critical of the city council's failure to prevent segregation of the Asian minority.

One report said the council - 'an ostrich or an apologist' - had avoided thorny issues for two decades. 'There's a culture of burying one's head in the sand over difficult race issues', said one Bradford councillor, who did not wish to be named.

A report by Raminder Singh, former deputy chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, condemned city councillors for refusing to accept there were 'real problems in the city' and accused local white and Asian politicians of putting their political careers before their communities. He found the council had put their faith in expensive schemes in deprived Asian areas that cost millions but failed to create jobs and fostered a dependency culture.

He had been shocked when his report had not been published. 'It would have been extremely valuable to have this information made public', he said.

A second report, drawn up at the beginning of this year by Graham Mahony, head of the city's race relations unit in the 1980s, is also unpublished. It said councillors of all parties had exacerbated tensions within the Asian community by garnering support based on family ties. It accused the council of failing to stand up to unreasonable demands from the Asian community. It warned against the grwoth of an Asian underclass heavily involved in the drugs trade and of a growing generation gap that was seeing Asian youths alienated from their parents.

The reports were commissioned as part of a larger study by Lord Ouseley, former chairman of the CRE. While his report was published after the July riots (see LGCnet), the other reports were never released, despite assurances that they would be.

After raising the issue of the reports at a council meeting last week and demanding their release, Conservative councillor Kris Hopkins faces expulsion. 'If we want to take race forward, we have got to make an arena where people feel confident and where we are not picking what can and cannot be said', he said.

Bradford's Conservative council leader Margaret Eaton denied there had been any cover-up. She said the documents were owned by Bradford Vision, a race relations group and not the council. Yet the council is a member of Bradford Vision and the council leader is vice-chair of it.

'There has absolutely been no attempt to to suppress these reports. There are issues of copyright that need to be sorted out. When we have done that, they can be published', she said.

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