31/05/2006

Report into Burnley race riots published

A report into the race riots in Burnley in 2001 has claimed that council spending decisions and poor civic leadership aggravated the situation.

The report, 'Burnley - The Real Story', cited segregated schooling, unemployment, housing problems and health problems among the factors which contributed to divisions in the town.

The race riots flared in Burnley, Oldham and Bradford in the summer of 2001. In Burnley, more than 200 people were involved in the disturbances, during which gangs of white and Asian youths clashed with riot police.

Police were threatened with weapons and pelted with missiles, while cars were also vandalised and buildings were fire-bombed. The cost of the damage caused was estimated to be around £1 million.

The report, conducted by the Burnley Action Partnership, suggested that area-focused regeneration spending in the 1990s had had an "unintended side effect" and was partly to blame for the riots.

The report said that this had caused problem by "drawing investment and activity away from a neighbouring area, or displacing a problem such as anti-social behaviour across a ward boundary", contributing to "social fragmentation by increasing neighbourhood rivalries".

However, co-author of the report, Mike Waite, said that investment in housing, schools, policing and health in Burnley, as well as inter-faith initiatives and a community festival established after the riots, had helped to improve the situation.

The report, launched during a conference which is taking place at Burnley Football Club, also found that the percentage of black and ethnic minority residents in the borough was just 8.2%.

(KMcA/SP)

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