A ‘Can Do’ City
As the Commission Report noted Bradford is a city beset by problems. Problems of industrial decline and technological change. Problems of mistrust and misunderstanding between communities. Problems of increasing needs and declining resources. These problems are not unique to Bradford but that neither diminishes them, nor justifies waiting for solutions to be provided from elsewhere.
Yet in working on the Report an even greater problem became apparent to me - an infection of the City’s institutions with a ‘can’t do’ culture.
When challenged to admit that there are racists within their ranks the Police Service ‘can’t do’ that for fear of undermining public confidence.
When challenged to deal with the extensive discrimination existing in the field of employment the private sector ‘can’t do’ anything because of the exigencies and pressures of commercial life.
When challenged to condemn the repressive and extremist forces at work within their own communities Asian ‘can’t do’ that because they would be seen as comforting bigots.
The ‘can’t do’ culture is at is most pervasive and extreme within the Local Authority. Over twenty years of reducing real budgets, an antipathetic central government and media ready to pounce on any misjudgment by a Council have habituated the authority to inaction. It has a culture that is far more ready and practiced at explaining why it can’t do anything rather than devising a way of getting something done.
A ‘can’t do’ culture doesn’t suit the City. Bradford was once a ‘can do’ city. Bradford’s vigour was enhanced by accepting people from other cultures in its past. Bradford has a history of action that outstrips any city in the country. In the past the city had problems on a titanic scale - epidemics, malnutrition, ignorance, poor communications - yet it devised measures to deal with its problems - in education, housing, services and business - which were subsequently copied by all.
As the centenary year approaches it is time to
make Bradford a ‘can do’ city once again.
Over the weekend of Friday, 9th June - Sunday, 11th June 1995 disturbances occurred in Manningham and spread to the City Centre.
The Government refused to hold an inquiry in to these events. The Bradford Congress, an association of major Bradford institutions, appointed a Commission of Inquiry.
The Terms of Reference.
The Terms of Reference of the Commission of Inquiry were:
"to conduct hearings to consider the wider implications for Bradford of recent events in a part of the inner city of Bradford, in order to create a better future for all the people of the District and to promote peace, harmony and understanding between the communities of Bradford."
I therefore saw that the task of the Commission was:
- to understand what had occurred and why it had occurred.
- to propose what action should be taken to prevent it happening again.
How the Commission Functioned.
The appointment of the Commission was announced on 7th September, and it began to hold hearings in October, 1995.
The Commission invited members of the public to tell explain their experiences and views. It accepted submissions from representatives of institutions and organisations.
The Commission was provided with a vast amount of books, articles research papers, and official reports. The Commission guaranteed anonymity to contributors, I will adhere to this.
The Commission’s investigations concentrated on what is usually referred to as "the Pakistani community" in Manningham. Yet I feel the evidence gathered and the measures I propose relate to any part of Bradford where people are disadvantaged and disregarded.
My Refusal to Endorse the Commission Report.
At the end of April John Barratt began drafting a Report. In both our discussions and in writing I registered my misgivings regarding the direction and substance of the Report as proposed. I had a number of concerns:
Evidence that was tendered time and time again was either not reflected, or given insufficient prominence in the draft report. The clearest example of this was racist behaviour by police officers. The Commission was left in no doubt that there were officers whose behavior betrayed their racial hostility and that this was a direct cause of the mistrust which in turn led to the disorder
The draft report was overlong and overwritten - or to put it bluntly ‘padded out’. I felt that on publication that this might well impress some and intimidate others, however this would soon wear off.
Bradford folk don’t like waffle and I was concerned that sooner or later people would start to say the report was long on words and short on ideas.
The draft report was both insufficiently critical of the ‘Muslim’ communities and also insufficiently demanding of them, yet at the same time rehearsed stereotypes and hearsay about ‘Asian’ communities. To note unsupported stories of ‘ …drugging and forcible abduction…’ risks comforting bigots while at the same time offending those within the ‘Asian ‘ communities who are working hard to promote gender equality.
The report utterly failed to address the real ‘self inflicted wounds’ that affect the ‘Asian’ communities.
The draft report lacked both intellectual coherence and courage. To put this as simply as possible - the thrust of the report was that Bradford’s institutions and organisations had failed the city. Yet the draft report’s conclusion was to hand the responsibility back to those same institutions that had failed, without any guidance, targets or timetable for action.
It is clearly inadequate to have as virtually the sole practical proposal that The Congress should set up a range of ‘sub-groups’ to ‘devise new strategies’. At best it may guarantee that the institutions will repeat their mistakes. At worst it may lead to organisations becoming involved in a fresh round of bureaucratic infighting with even more energy and resources dissipated.
Bradford has had enough ‘sub-groups’, ‘working parties’ and ‘joint committees’. Bradford has had enough ‘strategies’, ‘discussion documents’ and ‘vision statements’. What the city needs now is clear plans for action.
I thought it essential that the institutions should be given concrete proposals to at least indicate the areas they should be addressing.
I am forced to admit that none of the ideas are either mine or original. Every one of them has its origin in the common sense or professional expertise of the people The Commission listened too. Yet I am all too aware that in detailing them as an individual I am ‘laying my head on the chopping block’. It will be very easy to dismiss my proposals as a mere ‘wish list’, however I believe there is no limit to what this city can do - if we are willing to make tough choices and work hard.
The State of the Area.
Manningham contains the City’s principal Museum and Gallery, its largest public park, some of the city’s best designed houses and the country’s finest example of nineteenth century industrial building. It has a population drawn from cultures highly regarded for their industry and vigour.
All this makes it doubly shameful that the area is dilapidated, filthy and has a dearth of civic provision.
Manningham displays all the hallmarks of neglect and economic marginality: defunct or under-utilised retail premises, derelict ground used as waste dumps, whole streets in need of repair and refurbishment. The principal roads are often awash with litter and some side streets contain more unsavoury detritus, such as discarded drug abuse paraphernalia.
There is little visible presence by either local or central government institutions. There is no ‘Council Shop’ such as in places like Bingley or Shipley. Local authority run recreation facilities are widely regarded as expensive or unwelcoming. The Voluntary Sector projects which service the community have a disturbingly low impact. A succession of loudly proclaimed redevelopment plans for the Lister’s Mills complex never seem any nearer to becoming a reality.
There is one readily visible presence by an institution in the area: Lawcroft House - the Divisional Police Headquarters. This building has aroused real ire in the community it is intended to serve and protect. Many people can understand the design of police buildings has, of neccesity, become increasingly dominated by a need for security - not least because of the continual terrorist threat posed by the IRA operating on the mainland. Regardless of this it is a signal failing of the Police Service to choose to commission a building so strikingly at odds with the vernacular architecture of the area and of such a brutal and intimidating aspect. Complete strangers to the area, who are highly sympathetic to the Police, have accepted that the local people are quite correct to refer to the building as ‘Fort Lawcroft’.
The poor state of the area feeds itself. Although initiatives such as the JCT 600 group’s investment in the area or the opening of the Carlisle Business Centre are to be commended, there is no doubt that the image of neglect and marginality deters both investors and consumers.
The state of the area also mediates the behaviour of the residents. For example infrequently placed and overflowing litter bins coupled with ineffective street cleansing does not provide an incentive to people to avoid littering.
Much more significant is the accepted fact that young people have a marked tendency to develop a culture and demeanour which reflects and ‘celebrates’ their immediate environment. Hence the growing popularity of the ‘gangsta’ fashion affected by local youths as they adopt the clothing and elements attitude of disenchanted urban American youth gangs.
Disadvantage in Manningham.
A report produced by an Officers' Coordination Group some 3 months after the disturbances, described the area as "amongst the most disadvantaged in the city.
Further reports and studies establish that almost every indicator of poverty and ‘stress’ shows the Manningham area to be faring far worse than the city as a whole. The one exception is the proportion of lone parents, which at a quarter of the district rate, is a testament to the strength of the family in ‘Asian’ communities.
By far the most significant form of disadvantage to affect the Manningham area is unemployment. Recently, the rate for the area was 32%, compared with a district average of around 10%.
Young People in Manningham - Disadvantage and Disaffection.
Due to a number of factors: ‘white flight’, the presence of sheltered housing, differential birth rates - the area contains a disproportionate number of young people of ‘Asian’ ethnic origin.
Out of 5,720 young people between the ages of 9 -19 in 1995, some 4,178 were Pakistani and, of those under 30 years of age, 70% were of Pakistani/Kashmiri/ /Bangladeshi origin
In Manningham, 45% of the youth in the local Asian communities are recorded as unemployed. The causes of this rate of unemployment are both varied and disputed.
It must be accepted that a proportion of the young people of the area make very unappealing prospective employees. They are the products of a cycle of low expectations and educational under-achievement. They offer few qualifications, lack skills and an some display an offensive demeanor developed within their ‘street culture’.
Another proportion of the young people of the area may fail in their attempts to find work due to their demoralisation. It is hard to remain motivated when you see your siblings and friends consistently fail to find work. It is difficult to approach potential employers with an open and optimistic attitude following occasions when you have found that a vacancy has suddenly been filled - just moments after you have tendered your clearly ‘Asian’ name.
However, there can be no doubt that the single most massive factor in young ‘Asian’ unemployment is prejudice on the part of employers. Every single piece of research undertaken bears this out.
Youth unemployment - like all unemployment - generates a range of problems for the individual, the most immediate being poverty. It also generates a ranges of problems for society as a whole. Idle hands really are the Devil’s plaything and no serious commentator disputes the link between youth unemployment and anti-social behaviour.
It is far worse when youth unemployment becomes concentrated in a single broad ethnic origin group. One statistic showed a ‘White’ school leaver had a 1 in 8 chance of getting a job - something that, in itself, should be unacceptable to society. However an ‘Asian’ school leaver had only a 1 in 50 chance of getting a job.
It would be willfully dishonest not to accept that such wholly disproportionate incidence of unemployment will not lead to the disadvantaged group becoming disaffected from the society that it feels has discarded it.
The Disorders - Culprits and Causes.
It is crucial at this point in to distinguish between two issues which must not be confused. These are:
Who were the culprits? And What were the causes?
Dealing with the first issue is straightforward. It is evident that, in a very real sense, the culprits were the ‘rioters’ themselves. No one ‘made’ them throw stone or bottles, start fires, damage property or cars, intimidate or injure their fellow citizens.
What the rioters did was illegal, immoral and counterproductive. It was just plain wrong and I condemn it without reservation. In this I am heartened that every organisation and figure of note from the various communities in the Manningham area also condemned the public disorder and sought to make no excuse for it.
Addressing the second issue is both more complex and more necessary. While a search for either excuses or justifications for anti-social behaviour must be avoided, it is essential that the causes are understood to prevent anything of the kind happening again.
I feel it is useful to identify three separate causes to the disorders - the immediate, exacerbating and the underlying.
The immediate cause was the inappropriate actions, reactions and perceptions of those involved in the original ‘football’ incident:
Any reasonable person will accept that the Police Officers involved misjudged their intervention. Equally any reasonable person will accept that the participants and onlookers reacted with inappropriate hostility.
This was, in its turn, due to a number of other factors. The Police Officers had insufficient training and experience to deal sensitively with the situation. Their experience and background had habituated them to seeing a group of noisy ‘Asian ’ males as a potential threat to the peace - rather than simply as a set of friends having some boisterous but harmless fun.
In a similar fashion the personal experience, or the experiences of trusted friends and relatives, had accustomed the young men to see any intervention by the Police as to be motivated by suspicion at best and often by racial hostility. To them brusqueness or even concealed nervousness by a Police Officer would appear as the most apparent racism.
The exacerbating causes again reside within both the Police Service and the ‘Asian ’ communities. The extensive and severe mistrust of the Police that exists within those communities allowed rumours to flourish and spread. Crowds were drawn onto the street. This would have happened in any community at any time - yet it will always happen more quickly in an area of densely packed and overcrowded housing, holding a community with a tradition of outdoor socialising.
The Police gave the impression of discounting any intervention aimed at resolving the worsening situation. They promptly adopted their refined and trained for ‘public order’ stance and equipment. Streets filled with law abiding citizens who felt they were making a legitimate protest - or just wanted to find out what was going on - were faced by apprehensive and agitated Police Officers in riot gear. With a helicopter clattering in the air above - to nicely add to the air of crisis - there existed a near perfect situation for damage and disorder.
The underlying causes, which are in turn the most important ones of all are not located in the either the ‘Asian’ communities or in the Police Service.
The true underlying cause is the continued and accelerating failure of the city’s institutions, services and businesses to meet the reasonable needs and maintain the loyalty of far too large a proportion of the ‘Asian’ communities.
When disadvantage and discrimination go effectively unchallenged and unaddressed the communities that suffer become disaffected from society as a whole. One of the ways that disaffection tends to manifest itself - whether in the suburbs of Paris, downtown Los Angeles or Manningham - is in a predisposition to disorder.
The Asian Communities - Failings and Responsibilities.
There are very significant criticisms to be made of Bradford’s ‘Asian’ communities and I regret that most of them must be focused on the ‘Muslim’ sections of it. It must be accepted that the city’s Hindu and Sikh communities have, due to a variety of reasons, made a better account of integrating, educating, advancing and representing themselves.
It is nothing short of a tragedy that the terms ‘integration’ and ‘assimilation’ have themselves become negatives within the ‘Muslim’ communities. Far too many members of those communities feel that being more comfortably integrated in British society necessarily means abandoning a distinctive culture and betraying their religion. This is simply not the case.
The ‘Muslim’ communities are notoriously bad at representing their own interests. Factionalism is rife - there is an adage that if you have ‘two Pakistanis in a room you’ll have three organisations’. The multiplicity of community, religious and cultural organisations prevents the communities having a coherent and forceful voice about their own most pressing interests. It is also a besetting sin of leading community figures wanting to be ‘big fish in small ponds’ rather than mere contributors to a more unified representation.
The sub-ordinate role of women in the ‘Muslim’ communities presents a real problem. A problem not of the stereotypes and lurid rumours but the problem of a community that is not allowing the full development of half its potential economic and intellectual strength.
The ‘Muslim’ communities must also address the degree to which they hinder the education and subsequent attainment of their offspring. Few communities have such a heartfelt desire for educational success as Bradford’s Muslims. Yet they often place unfair burdens on their children.
Koranic education can be a powerful force for good - inculcating the high moral standards of Islam. However this will not occur if Arabic rote teaching is not accompanied by guidance in an accessible language. It is equally important that supplementary religious education is provided with the interests of the child as paramount, all too often it is conducted at the convenience of the providers, during the school week, leaving pupils tired and unresponsive to their wider education.
The ‘Muslim’ communities must assess and shoulder their share of the blame for the educational failure generated by the poor English language competence of very young children. I feel that the case for comprehensive nursery provision is irrefutable, yet it would be even stronger if ‘Muslim’ families and organisations committed themselves to steadily reducing the number of children who are trapped in a ‘language ghetto’ produced by the use of an Asian tongue as the sole domestic exchange.
In common with all migrant communities, Bradford’s Muslims feel a strong bond of solidarity. In most instances this is a force for good, allowing mutual support and understanding. It does have its bad side when there is an unwillingness to be self-critical. There exists a common feeling that members of the community should not be openly critical as this will just sustain the prejudiced views held by others. Also there is an understandable sentiment that if any criticism is to be made it should be directed at manifestations of prejudice and hostility in the ‘White’ establishment and institutions.
I fundamentally disagree with that approach. I do not feel that it is proper for me to point out the failings of ‘White’ society and institutions if I am not willing to be honest about the community of which I am proud to be a member. I may be pilloried for this but I can do no other.
The Police - Racism, Insensitivity and Ineffectiveness.
During my activities as a representative of workers in public transport I have had a much greater than average amount of contact with the Police service when I have dealt with road traffic accidents, assaults on drivers etc. I believe that the role of the police officer in today’s society is continually demanding, frequently dangerous and, on occasions, requires outright heroism.
I am certain that the majority of police officers are dedicated and competent public servants discharging their duties to the best of their ability without fear, favour or prejudice. Overall West Yorkshire is well served by its police force.
However I cannot ignore the fact that the Commission was given much evidence that the ‘Asian’ communities had to a great extent lost faith in the police. Older members of the communities spoke with regret about this. More significantly, it is impossible to overstate the mistrust with which younger members of the community viewed the Police.
The Commission received many accounts of racist behaviour by individual police officers. Many, if not most, have an undoubted ‘ring of truth‘. Even if nine out of ten of these accounts were dismissed as either the product of misapprehension or even outright fabrications there remains an wholly unacceptable incidence of racist policing.
From time to time, usually in the wake of highly publicised racist incidents senior officers tender the proposition that the police force are a reflection of society and will therefore contain racially prejudiced officers within their ranks. This contention is both flawed and dangerous. The public neither expect nor deserve a police force that simply reflects the attitudes or practices of society at large . No one would propound a case that the police force should contain a reflective proportion of people who, for example, exceeded speed restrictions, failed to pay their television licence or indulge in illegal drugs. The public desire and deserve a Police Service that consists of men and women of , quite literally, extraordinary rectitude.
Perhaps more important is the consideration that the effect of racist officers is out of all proportion to their presence. Even if the number of openly racist officers is minimal it will never be insignificant. Each racist response or action by a police officer alters the way the recipient will react to the police for the rest of their lives. It will also affect the attitude held by their friends and family. Every racist officer destroys the valiant and fair efforts of ten or a hundred of their fellow officers.
There is another matter arising out of the disturbances which again turns on the, quite properly, different expectations of the conduct of Police Officers.
In the cases arising out of the ‘original incident’ the Stipendiary Magistrate held that both the Police and the Witnesses did not tell the truth in the cases arising from the original incident
Insufficient public comment was made on this. If a member of the public misleads a court it is clearly reprehensible. Yet there are factors, which while not justifying this, may at least make it understandable. The individuals may have had their memory coloured by previous incidents, continuing anger, hearing the accounts of others continually and forcefully rehearsed or they may simply possess poor personal powers of recollection.
There is an absolute difference when a Police officer misleads a court. The officers are selected and trained to observe events accurately, record those events accurately and present an account of those events accurately. It is a function of the oath they take to uphold the law. When a defendant or witness misleads it is immoral and illegal. When a police Officer misleads it is immoral , illegal and constitutes a threat to policing itself and society as a whole.
There are severe failings in the sensitivity of the Police Service to the communities they serve in the Manningham area. Training in what are termed ‘race awareness’ issues is lamentably inadequate and must be improved.
There exist lapses of judgement in operational matters which grossly undermines the Police services ability to engender the respect and co-operation of local people. The design of the Divisional Headquarters is mentioned elsewhere but to give two other examples:
The adoption of protective vests worn over other items of uniform was a stupid error. It is accepted that clothing, especially uniforms, mediate the way the individual wearing it is perceived - hence the retention of the ‘Prussian’ helmet to confer apparent height and authority. Similarly the kevlar vest affects perception. One ‘White’ Manningham resident put it most succinctly ‘ … they can’t expect to be treated like your friendly community bobby if they go round dressed as if they’re patrolling downtown Mostar …’ No one wants to deny the Police anything that can offer protection from injury. Yet if the Police in ultra-violent American cities can wear similar items under uniform shirts so can Police in West Yorkshire - and if there is some ‘technical’ reason why the current vest cannot be worn discreetly then questions should be asked about its selection.
Equally the Commission were aghast when invited to observe the training for use of the long baton in public order situations. The drawing of this ‘en masse’ is accompanied with a concerted shout of ‘BACK OFF’ - to choose a phrase so clearly susceptible to misconstruction in instances of tension is further evidence of a lack of clear and sensitive thinking.
The Commission was also given extensive and compelling evidence that the Police Service was not active enough in dealing with the trafficking of hard drugs. I personally was able to witness this, seeing drug trafficking take place from a Housing Association flat in the Manningham area. There was no attempt at all to conceal what was happening. More significantly the Police were informed officially by the Association, by three other tenants. The property’s external door was regularly smashed by overwrought addicts, a motorcycle and Jaguar saloon were set ablaze outside the property. Yet the Police took no discernible action and the drug traders moved on at their own convenience. A failure to deal with such blatant serious crime brings both the law and police into contempt.
The City Council and Local Politics.
The local authority is one of the area’s greatest assets. It has a committed workforce, and dedicated members. It has continued to serve the City efficiently in the face of ever increasing demands, shrinking resources and an unsympathetic Central Government. However there is an absence of a clear local political guidance.
The leadership of the Local Authority has either changed, or been subjected to a serious challenge almost every year for more than a decade, similarly key Council Committee positions have been subject to consistent change or challenge.
This has unquestionably led to a, possibly unavoidable, but certainly unconstructive concentration on internal Labour Group politics. Members already overstretched by the massive demands of local government, both in terms of time and responsibility, have been diverted from central issues. Some arms of the Authority, for instance Community and Environment, have benefited from a very ‘hands on’ approach by the involved Members of Council. Most others have not.
Moreover, there existed residual inter-party bitterness left by the ‘Pickles’ experiment. The impotence engendered by the growing dominance of one party has led the minority parties into a general approach of operating as a reflex opposition to the ruling group. Constructive criticism across party lines does not occur.
These factors, and others, produced a political policy vacuum which was been filled by an overabundance of officer originated strategies. Or as one Manningham resident said: ‘…the local authority has strategies coming out of its ears - but hardly concrete plans for delivering action …’
There are however signs that the situation is improving. There appears to be a real will to make the Authority a ‘member led’ as opposed to an ’officer led’ council.
However, in tandem with this welcome improvement there approaches a new danger. There are now powerful unelected organisations operating within the city which have substantial budgets and important remits. The boards of these organisations are appointed or self selected. They seek to extend their influence.
Bodies such as the TEC can be a massively valuable partners. Organisations such as Congress can be useful mechanisms for generating concerted action. Also at times it can be beneficial to cede or devolve powers such as to Area Panels, or the Manningham Development Executive I propose.
Nonetheless the Local Authority must always remind others that it is the only institution with a truly democratic mandate. It is no less than the Local Authority’s duty to ensure that none of its powers and functions are usurped by institutions which do not have the same popular mandate.
The Local Authority should fulfill its role with sensitivity and openness but also with confidence and fortitude. It must be the City’s central stable leader - rather than being one participant among many.
Education has always been a favoured tool of immigrant groups, anywhere in the world, in the attempts to establish and improve their position in their new ‘host’ society.
Equally it is a resource often used by governments in the efforts to redress the imbalances and disadvantages that occur concomitantly with a migrant influx. For the ‘Pakistani’ communities of Bradford , however , education as a mechanism to achieve equality is currently failing. There are many reasons for this.
It must be accepted that some of the difficulties arise because of the structure of the some of the ‘Asian’ communities. The most damaging of these is the fact that the Kashmiri communities reside in compact and concentrated locations, this compounds both sub-standard English language competence and ‘experiential deprivation’. The lack of English language facility is further harmed by the practice of ‘trans-continental’ marriages through extended families, as this tends towards the maintenance of an Asian tongue as the domestic language.
The damage caused by having significant numbers of children entering school with inadequate language skills cannot be over-emphasised. Some recover from this and go on to excel. The majority do not. Also the presence of so many language disadvantaged ‘Asian ‘children - despite the best efforts of schools - acts as a hindrance to the attainment of ‘White’ children, this is unacceptable in itself and is also a further source of racial antipathy.
Remedial teaching is expensive and often doesn’t work. There is an urgent need for a truly vast increase in nursery education if the school system is to stop turning out ill educated, disenchanted and disruptive young ‘Asians’. This is a massive task to undertake but huge problems are not resolved by meagre solutions.
There is much concern by parents in the ‘Asian’ communities that discipline in schools is becoming far too lax. Without doubt this is a perception shared by many ‘White’ parents. There may well be instances of schools that do not place a sufficient premium on the behaviour and conduct of their pupils, yet these remain a minority.
Moreover, parents - from all communities - must accept that is their own responsibility to inculcate good standards of behaviour in their children, it is not a task that can be off-loaded to over-stretched schools.
The standard of education provided in the schools serving the ‘Asian’ communities is generally accepted as good when proper account is taken of the difficulties that they have to deal with. If full and balanced account was taken of the disadvantage experienced by their intake some schools, for example Belle Vue Girls, would not be regarded as merely ‘succeeding’ but would , in fact, be regarded as outstanding.
The potential for improving schools performance is not only restricted by their pupils disadvantage. Their is widespread discontent among staff, parents and governors with the effect of education reforms. The need for schools to compete for pupils is seen as not only as divisive but also as grossly inefficient, squandering time and resources that could otherwise be concentrated on teaching.
There is also profound discontent with the Education Service bureaucracy. In common with much of the local authority it is felt to give too much time and effort to developing and refining vapid strategies, visions and mission statements. There is felt to be a waste of resources on barely useful seminars and ‘bought in’ training at a time when schools are short of staff and materials.
The Local Economy and The Private Sector.
Changes in industries, technologies, markets and trading relationships have posed immense challenges to local businesses. The problems of recession have been compounded by recurring negative images of the area.
Companies have not only had to ‘run fast to stay where they are’ all have had to strive desperately to survive at all. Many despite the best efforts of management and workforce have failed to do that.
The Private Sector in Bradford contains many firms that adhere to best practice in recruitment and appointment, there are also instances of firms with an active commitment to improving their own understanding of the City’s Asian communities.
Yet it is impossible to ignore the clear failings in the Private Sector’s relationship with the City’s Asian Communities. It is reprehensible that every available piece of statistical evidence establishes that members of the Asian communities face significant prejudice and discrimination in the field of employment. In simple terms this means that an ‘Asian’ person finds it much harder to get a job, or if employed to gain promotion, than a ‘White’ person’ with exactly similar qualifications, experience and ability.
This in turn contributes to lower expectation, ambition and confidence particularly amongst young Asians. This situation cannot go unchallenged. It is illegal, morally wrong, economically wasteful and generates a growing pool of disadvantage and resentment that the City’s institutions will have increasing difficulties coping with.
"Voluntary Activity" and The Voluntary Sector
There is value in voluntary activity to meet communal needs which, realistically, cannot be met by expensive public services at a time of restraint on public expenditure.
However there are real difficulties with this approach in an area like Manningham. It is known that affluent, stable communities usually have the most voluntary activity, in both terms of volume and activity. This is due to the presence of confidence, expertise and articulacy among its residents.
Conversely the most deprived communities are marked by the absence of these same attributes. Even more significantly it is wrong to expect that communities suffering disadvantage should organise and expend effort to redress perceived shortcomings in the provision they receive from the City’s institutions.
To give two clear illustrations: a community that perceives the police service as continually distant and often hostile is unlikely to be enthusiastic about forming neighbourhood watch schemes - equally - householders who feel that they receive scant attention from the cleansing department are unlikely to make the effort to clear general rubbish from the public space adjacent to their own property.
The City’s institutions must recognise that the best voluntary action is based on a matrix of successful public provision.
There is also a quite distinct ‘Voluntary Sector’ in the City. Commonly they have volunteer managing bodies, paid staff and intend to deliver services complimentary or supplementary to the local authority or other institutions. The Bradford Voluntary Sector’ is larger than in many comparable areas with an aggregate budget currently in excess of six million pounds. This sector grew piecemeal and in the absence of any overarching strategy by the funding agencies. Monitoring regimes and assessment mechanisms were developed subsequently and are widely regarded as ineffective.
The sector contains much that it is good and many projects that are nothing short of superb. As examples Rape Crisis projects are lamentably underfunded for the essential work they undertake, The Bradford Resource Centre is a model of efficient management and the Law Centre has helped thousands of people who would have otherwise been without legal advice.
The sector does have very real failings. Chief among the failings are the sector’s lack of impact. It is striking that, in a community like Manningham, the vast majority of residents had no knowledge whatsoever of projects and agencies which have as their stated intent the addressing of problems and disadvantages endemic to the area. Even more disturbing were instances where residents were aware of projects but did not avail themselves of the services on offer as they were dissuaded by a feeling that the organisations were ‘cliques’ or inaccessible.
At time of scant and diminishing resources these failings must be addressed and a comprehensive assessment of the Sector would, without question be worthwhile. It should be determined if there are better ways of generating provision, while making it more widely available. Resources could be released by such a review and concentrated on areas of growing deprivation and disadvantage. It would also furnish an opportunity for the sector to be placed on a much more stable footing, it is a concern that far too much time and effort in the sector is squandered on dealing with the issue of fund raising. It is both unfair and inefficient that employees in the sector should face continual insecurity and have poorer conditions than workers in both the public and private sector with similarly responsible positions would expect as a matter of course.
The Council for Racial Equality.
The Council for Racial Equality has a history of sterling service to City, its members have given unstintingly of time and effort, its staff have always worked with diligence and often with courage to promote understanding between Bradford’s various communities. It retains a massive value for the City’s minority communities as a permanent focus for the consideration and expression of common concerns unmediated by religious, national or sectional loyalties.
Regardless, I feel that the Council for Racial Equality has not become the force for positive change that it once promised to be. It runs a continual risk of being marginalised by more contentious issues and more strident voices. Moreover its activities have been far more re-active than pro-active, it has become too associated with complaint than pre-emption, too concerned with reflection than analysis. It has become worryingly divorced from young people and is treated with scepticism by a large sections of the African Caribbean communities.
It may be thought that the Christian Churches would have a limited role to play in a multi-ethnic area such as Manningham. On the contrary they have been committed and active in promoting good inter communal relationships and in speaking out on behalf of the poor and disadvantaged.
The Anglican Churches have shown particular vigour in this field and have maintained a considerable presence in the area, at a significant cost, with valuable effect. They deserve recognition from the wider community for their genuine goodwill and the positive effect of their efforts.
The issue of healthcare provision was clearly beyond the remit of The Commission, nonetheless, much evidence was tendered that the current provision was in many ways failing the ‘Asian’ communities.
It was clear that preventative medicine strategies - an under funded area in general - had little or no ‘reach’ in to the ‘Asian’ communities. Likewise, there were some areas of healthcare where the identification of specific needs and approaches appropriate to cultures of the ‘Asian’ communities had not been developed - the most glaring example was the treatment of mental distress. In general it was felt that the healthcare providers were either badly advised as to the needs of ethnic minority communities or that they were not particularly concerned.
Aside from the pain and suffering that this would generate for individuals who did not receive, or know how to seek out, appropriate treatment it was also felt that this was yet another instance where the ‘Asian’ communities felt they were being discounted by a major institution.
Before tendering my recommendations I feel it essential to repeat my condemnation, without reservation, of the anti-social and criminal behaviour that occurred in the disturbances.
I do not want any positive steps that I, or others, propose to be perceived as a reward for rioting. I would not advocate any application of resources on this basis.
The communities involved are particularly stable, honest and responsible - as is evidenced by their stoic response to many years of disregard and disadvantage.
The criminal few may have brought the plight of the law abiding many to public attention , yet it is only the law abiding many that warrant the support of the City.
In the longer term I do not want any of the actions suggested to be restricted to the Manningham area. There are many areas of similar disadvantage throughout the metropolitan area and similar solutions should be applied to their problems.
The initiatives in Manningham should be refined and replicated for the wider benefit of the City as a whole. To put it bluntly, Manningham can be used as a test bed for new approaches that can then be used to benefit all disadvantaged areas, regardless of their ethnic makeup.
In particular I would be overjoyed if the provision of comprehensive nursery education should encompass the entire district as rapidly as is possible. Bradford has a history of leading the way in education which is unmatched by any other city.
Surely a commitment to creating comprehensive nursery education would be a better way to celebrate the centenary of our city than any amount of civic pomp.
Resources for Action.
This document does not restrict itself to anodyne statements, hedged around with caveats. It contains a number of firm recommendations for action, argues for real changes in the cultures of institutions and outlines some indicative structures and projects.
These things require resources - or as we say in Bradford ‘it teks sum brass’
In the light of this document’s recommendations it would not suffice to simply rely on some woolly statement about the need ‘to make hard choices and redirect existing resources’ Instead it essential to consider the means of funding the recommended initiatives and projects.
Some recommendations can surely be funded from within existing and forecast budgets. The recommendations for action by the police service not only have manageable cost implications but should indeed save the force money over time by reducing friction with the communities that they serve and by increasing public co-operation. These results will in turn improve efficiency.
Similarly the CRE can fulfill a new and more active role by a more directed use of its current resources.
The Private Sector, while rightly resistant to anything it perceives as an additional burden, has a moral and civic duty to meet the relatively minor costs of pursuing fairer recruitment and employee development programs. In many instances there should be no cost implications whatsoever. To put it simply - a personnel officer recruiting in accordance with best practice gets paid no more than one discharging their task with prejudice or ignorance. They can also garner a more effective and more profitable staff for an undertaking.
The bulk of the larger scale projects cannot be funded with similar ease. Most of them fall wholly or mainly within the remit of the Local Authority. The Authority can reasonably look to its Congress partners for substantial commitment. For example, the TEC should make a substantial commitment to the general regeneration of the Manningham area by locating training and enterprise promotion projects within the area.
The TEC should also be the key partner in the programme to provide comprehensive nursery education in the area. The TEC should establish a locally based training unit for nursery nurses, which can be designed for programmed expansion. The TEC is well placed, using its valuable and developing links with trades unions to build acceptable elements of training programmes in to the conversion or construction of nursery units.
The Local Authority must also look to central government for co-operation. It is entirely reasonable to request additional assistance from this source when pursuing innovative, radical and cost effective solutions to deepening difficulties.
I would be happy if this document can, in some small way, add to the very potent case for funding contained within the Manningham/Girlington SRB bid.
The Local Authority must approach central government with a view to reaching agreement. Its case must be realistic and openly argued. There must be no suspicion of a Labour controlled authority presenting an unreasonable demand in order to make party political capital out of a refusal by a Conservative government.
There is an inescapable case for a redirection and concentration of resources within the authority’s field of operation. However it cannot be overstressed that this must not affect the authority’s ‘front-line’ and immediate support services. They are all overstretched and it is a testament of the authority’s employee’s commitment that they continue to perform as well as they do. Job losses in this area are unthinkable.
There is the potential to redirect considerable sums within the Voluntary Sector and allied activities without significant employment loss or reduction in provision.
In keeping with the clear desirability of increasing the member responsibility for strategic direction and ‘vision’ there will be, over time, a need to reduce the complement of the highest level of the Authority’s officers. To that end there should be an absolute moratorium on the replacement of any Director or Assistant Director positions, middle echelon posts should only be filled when the authority’s Policy and Resources Committee has been convinced that there is an unanswerable case to do so.
To achieve shifts of resources on the scale necessary the authority must eschew its renowned anti-corporate approach. Directorates will have to forgo their tradition of protecting their own budgets and influence at all costs. To achieve this will require strong political leadership. It will also require a ‘ can do attitude.
Recommendations: The Police Force.
I reiterate my belief that the role of the police officer in today’s society is continually demanding, frequently dangerous and, on occasions, requires outright heroism. I believe that the majority of police officers are dedicated and competent public servants discharging their duties to the best of their ability without fear, favour or prejudice.
Nonetheless I have no option but to tender the following conclusion:
The Police Force must accept that it has lost the loyalty and respect of an unacceptably large proportion of Bradford’s Asian communities. It must accept that officers who behave in a manner affected by racial antipathy, regardless of their number, do untold harm to the force’s reputation and ability to ‘police by consent’. It must accept that the majority of its officers, however good their intentions, are insufficiently aware of and insufficiently sensitive to the cultures, perceptions and anxieties of the Asian communities. It must accept that it contains far too few members of the Asian communities within its ranks. Most important of all, it must accept that eradicating racist behavior, reflecting and understanding the communities that it serves is not a distraction from ‘real police work’ but is in fact the essential underpinning of an effective police service.
Therefore I recommend:
That the police force should adopt a simple specific statement that ‘racist behavior by its officers will not be tolerated and that proven instances will inevitably result in dismissal.’
That the police force’s race awareness training must be massively increased in both terms of time and resources allotted to it. Equally it must be structured as an integral part of police training throughout every officer’s career.
That the police force must vastly increase the productive contact between its officers and members of the Asian communities. As a first step the force should work with Asian organisations and individuals to establish a scheme of reciprocal home visits and social activities between probationary constables and families within the Asian communities. The participation in this to be both mandatory and substantial. As rapidly as possible this scheme to be extended in order that participation can be made a prerequisite for any promotional step.
That the police force must increase the proportion of its officers drawn from Asian community backgrounds. Resources must be directed to a targeted recruitment with a significant proportion of this being committed to encouraging applicants for graduate accelerated promotion programmes.
That the police force should establish an external and independent Counsellor for race relations, to advise and support officers from ethnic minority backgrounds and to record incidents and behavior affected by racial antipathy. All contact and recording to remain strictly confidential to the Counselor and the officer, unless the officer specifies otherwise. In addition the Counselor would perform an overall monitoring role and report on a regular basis to the Chief Constable and Police Authority.
That it become a standard operating procedure that patrols in multi-ethnic areas will always include an experienced, appropriately trained officer in charge.
That greater emphasis must be placed on the appearance and demeanor of officers on patrol, defensive vests should be worn beneath other items of uniform, officers should be valued, commended and rewarded by the force for displaying courtesy, judgment and their ability to ‘defuse’ situations. To this end a trial, local ‘Minor Complaints and Appreciation Scheme’ should be implemented. This scheme - designed externally but operated by the police force - would be a ‘step down’ from the formal complaints procedure and would using leaflets, posters and general publicity encourage members of the public to register both their misgivings and their appreciation arising out of their contact with the police. Access should be obvious and easy while the response should be prompt and professional.
That police training and planning for public order incidents should not focus exclusively on physical control. The value of oblique tactics should be emphasized - examples of this which The Commission was assured proved effective during the Manningham disturbances were officers on standby playing cricket with Asian youths, officers engaging onlookers in personal conversation and the toleration of overspill impromptu demonstrations.
That further consultations with the local community should be pursued with the intention of altering both the appearance and operation of Lawcroft House in order to make it a much more accepted feature of local life.
That the Manningham Area become a ‘ Zero Tolerance and Complete Co-operation’ regarding the trafficking of ‘hard’ drugs. Immediate - ‘the same hour’- action on any information, complete anonymity and continuing protection of informants.
Recommendations: The Local Authority.
The local authority is one of the area’s greatest assets. It has a committed workforce, talented officers and dedicated members. It has continued to serve the City efficiently in the face of ever increasing demands, shrinking resources and an unsympathetic Central Government.
Nonetheless I have no option but to tender the following conclusion:
The Local Authority must accept that it has not developed a coherent and consistent political vision for the identification of needs and the delivery of services. It has had an overabundance of officer originated strategies and a lack of clear plans for action. Most important of all the Local Authority must eradicate a decision making system which equates inaction with prudence. It must replace a ‘can’t do’ culture with a ‘can do’ approach.
Therefore I recommend:
That the controlling group charge itself with making the authority even more member led. The group must acquire the collective self discipline to avoid recurring changes of, or continual challenges to the leadership.
The Local Authority is the City’s only institution with a truly democratic mandate. It is therefore the Local Authority’s duty to guard against any of its powers and functions being surrendered inappropriately to other institutions which do not have the same popular mandate.
The Local Authority must accept that its mechanisms for more direct contact with local communities is inadequate in areas such as Manningham where the ability of people to express their needs and concerns is hampered by complexities of ethnic origin, well founded anxieties and continuing disadvantage. The Local Authority should physically locate in the area itself, in much larger versions of the ‘Council Shops’ already in place in Shipley and Bingley. These should provide access to the full range of Council services and also be developed into focal points for contact between the population and the authority’s officers and members.
Whether or not it is successful the Local Authority should build on the framework of its SRB bid for the Manningham/Girlington Area. A small professional ‘Manningham Development Executive’ should be recruited. This should bear similarities to the authority’s proven City Centre Management initiative but be given even more exacting targets, even greater latitude and adequate resources. The Development Executive should be overseen and guided by a permanent steering group drawn from the Council, its Congress partners and representatives from the local business and professional community. Advisory groups and local forums should be created to allow residents opinions to be heard and the structure and proceedings should be determined by the residents themselves. The intent of this structure is to establish a core of officers containing flair, competence and ‘new blood’ who are supervised by a group containing acumen, experience and a democratic mandate. Both of these bodies having immediate and continuing contact with the communities that they are serving and working with.
The Development Executive should be tasked with:
Planning and implementing a comprehensive regeneration of the physical environment of the area.
Co-ordinating a tangible improvement in the delivery of services in the area.
Encouraging and supporting investment and business in the area.
Facilitating and funding voluntary, community and cultural projects to improve the quality of life.
It is essential that Development Executive should develop regenerative projects with the support and guidance of the community, however an indicative project is:
Establishing Oak Lane as a valued business and the social nexus of the area by:
- Reducing the highway area and massively increase the pedestrian area with the greater proportion of this given over to pavement tables for restaurants and cafes, extended displays from ‘Asian’ retail outlets, hard landscape and public seating.
- Providing security fittings, signboards etc. under a grant regime which reflects the area’s ‘Asian’ characteristics while remaining sympathetic to the Victorian architecture of the buildings.
- Encouraging ‘higher value’ businesses which could benefit from an ‘Asian’ ambiance to locate in the area.
- Creating that ‘ambiance’ by incorporating ‘Asian ‘ features into the architecture, street furniture and Lister Park
None of this is intended to create an ‘Asian’ theme park, on the contrary it is simply using an ethnic predominance as a strength to build on rather than as a problem to be serviced. Sceptics should consider the success that ‘Chinatown’ projects have had throughout the western world.
The standard of education provided in the schools serving the Manningham is good when proper account is taken of the difficulties that the schools have to deal address.
Nonetheless I have no option but to tender the following conclusion:
An unacceptable proportion of children from the Asian Communities are entering primary school not only with poor or no English language skills but also with a range of other disadvantages such as the absence of even a basis for numeracy, no pre-reading skills, inadequate play, interactional and observation skills. Often a general experiential deprivation renders standard teaching material virtually useless. It is now established that disadvantage of this kind make it impossible for children to derive benefit from education throughout their school career. At present considerable resources are committed to remedial work with pupils, however remedial teaching is expensive and is often ineffective. Also the presence of so many disadvantaged Asian children , despite the best efforts of schools acts as a brake on the attainment of white children.
Therefore I recommend:
A vast increase in nursery education. The Local Authority should commit itself to devising, negotiating and effecting a programme to provide comprehensive nursery education for 3 to 5 year olds in the Manningham Area.
Although the current trial ‘Voucher Scheme’ is politically unpalatable to the controlling group and is also regarded by most working in the field as grossly inefficient - if not unworkable, I urge the Authority to immediately begin discussions with the Department of Education with a view to success. Equally, the Authority must be conscious of the proximity of a general election and therefore any proposals should also be compatible with the Labour Party ‘s approach detailed in the document ‘Early Excellence’.
A multi-agency approach is a prerequisite. This is an area where the concept of synergy can be a reality rather than a glib assertion. The components exist already:
A client group with a proven need and a willingness to participate. Asian families have a much higher propensity to take up nursery places, where available, than the average.
Potential talented. committed staff are available for training Places for training as nursery staff are vastly over-subscribed with applicants from ‘Asian’ majority schools, there is evidence that it is one of the most sought after career options among young Asian girls in the area.
The Authority can work with the TEC, schools, colleges and the community itself to instigate a programme starting on a relatively small scale but which could be designed for continual expansion. This programme would provide training opportunities, career opportunities, work in construction and refurbishment and - most important of all - a headstart in life for disadvantaged young children regardless of their race or creed.
Recommendations: The Private Sector .
Bradford contains many firms that adhere to best practice in recruitment and appointment, there are also instances of firms with an active commitment to improving their own understanding of the City’s Asian communities.
Nonetheless I have no option but to tender the following conclusion:
There remain clear failings in the Private Sector’s relationship with the City’s Asian Communities. Members of the Asian communities face significant prejudice and discrimination in the field of employment. This situation cannot go unchallenged as it creates disadvantage and resentment that the City as a whole will have to deal with. The Private Sector must accept that the City’s Asian communities represent a significant proportion of their customers and clients. It must accept that they are tax and charge payers and hence contributors to the provision of the infrastructure and services used by businesses. The Private sector must accept that the Asian Communities are not getting a fair deal in employment opportunities. Above all the Private sector must accept that to redress this makes good business sense.
I therefore recommend:
That the ‘Bradford’s Untapped Riches’ initiative be both refined and expanded. Its publicity, information and materials should be simpler, more incisive and more accessible.
That the City’s business and professional organisations commit themselves to a simple specific statement that ‘Discrimination in the selection for employment and advancement within employment must be eradicated’ and support this with concrete action:
The Private Sector should make a significant contribution of resources to an enhanced ‘ Untapped Riches’ programme.
The Private Sector, through its own organisations, should join with other organisations, in particular the TEC and CRE to devise an investigation and monitoring programme to produce an accurate picture of the real extent and nature of disadvantage in local employment.
A regime of targets for proportions of employees from Asian Community backgrounds should be devised. These ‘Targets for Fairness’ should be varied to reflect elements such as the size of the business and its natural staff turnover, the known ‘availability’ of potential employees with appropriate skills and training from Asian Communities. The targets, therefore can be made both realistic and ambitious. Businesses should be encouraged to adopt an appropriate target, should not be condoned if they fail and should be commended when they succeed.
The Private Sector should devise, with expert independent assistance, initiatives to further career development of employees from the Asian communities. The business community must address what has been termed the ‘Asian receptionist effect’ in which members of ethnic communities are employed in highly visible yet subordinate roles while remaining under represented in higher skilled and rewarded positions.
Recommendations: The Voluntary Sector.
The Voluntary sector in Bradford is large in size and budget. The sector grew organically in the absence of any real strategy. The sector has many projects that are superb.
Nonetheless I have no option but to tender the following conclusion:
The Voluntary Sector in Bradford does have very real failings, at a time of diminishing resources these must be evaluated.
Therefore I recommend:
That a comprehensive assessment of the Voluntary Sector is undertaken. This should be carried out a very small unit brought in from outside the area and should be constituted from people marked by both professional competence and a commitment to public sector provision, for example a retiree from a First Division Association post.
There should be base criteria for assessment:
Would members of the organisation’s client group suffer harm from the removal or reduction of the provision.
Are there alternative and better ways of generating the provision.
Is the client group significant in number and disadvantage to warrant the existing provision.
Is the provision effective delivered and responsibly managed.
Such an assessment should be entirely independent, both of political preference and personal sentiment. However it is reasonable to assume that some projects would warrant further resources, others could be provided more cost effectively and some may be discontinued. Resources would be released by such a mechanism and concentrated on areas of growing deprivation and disadvantage. It would also furnish an opportunity for the sector to be placed on a much more stable footing.
Recommendations: The Council for Racial Equality
The Council for Racial Equality has a real value for the minority ethnic communities as a focus for the evaluation and expression of common concerns.
Nonetheless I have no option but to tender the following conclusion:
The Council for Racial Equality has failed to become a major force for positive change and risks being marginalised.
Therefore I recommend:
That, without requiring additional resources, the Council for Racial Equality should rapidly shift its activities to a pro-active mode.
That the Council for Racial Equality should, jointly with the Police Service, develop and administer the scheme of reciprocal activities recommended elsewhere. This will be a task requiring effort, rigour and sensitivity. The Council for Racial Equality with its record of radical commitment but a measured approach is supremely suited for this task.
That the Council for Racial Equality should commit a substantial part of its resources to working with the TEC and the Private Sector to further the ‘Untapped Riches’ and ‘Targets for Fairness’ programmes.
The Council for Racial Equality should encourage and provide facilities for members of the Asian Communities to come together and consider those issues and problems that are generated within the communities themselves. The Council for Racial Equality should not define or shape these discussions but restrict its role to preventing ‘factional takeovers’ and unsympathetic reporting. Over time the CRE should work with many other ethnic minority organisations and help generate a greater degree of openness, particularly among the Asian communities regarding the ‘self-inflicted wounds’. than is currently the case.
A Personal Afterword.
In the early hours of the 12th. Of October a man slipped gently from life. The man had borne his final, mortal illness with a courage that had profoundly moved all around him.
The man had been born in the north - west of Britain’s huge Indian Empire. He grew up in dire poverty, suffered hunger and witnessed war.
Later he was able to emigrate to Britain. A chain of chance brought him to a northern city where he worked long hours for appalling pay, yet never complained because for him there was a joy in labour. He suffered the insults and indignities of racism, yet never became bitter for he could see the good in the many was greater than the bile of the few.
He built a family, always urging them to work, learn and contribute.
When illness forced him to give up his job he took it upon himself to be an unofficial social worker and volunteer handyman for anyone who needed help.
In his last days some of his relatives wondered if he wanted to be buried among his family, near his birthplace. He dismissed the idea out of hand.
He wanted to be buried in the city that had become his home. The city in which children and grandchildren had been born. The city that had allowed him to work and build. The city that had recognised his contribution by sharing the burden of care with his family as illness overtook him.
He wanted to be buried in the city he was proud of.
Hence the dedication at the front of this document:
to the memory of a man and to the future of a city.
The city is Bradford. The man was my father.
M.TAJ, NOVEMBER 1996