COMMISSION ON INTEGRATION "COMES UNDER FIRE"
(24 August 2006)
Secretary Ruth Kelly launched a new Commission on Integration and
Cohesion on Thursday 24 August 2006. The independent Commission
will consider innovative approaches looking at how communities across
the country can be empowered to improve cohesion and tackle extremism.
The creation of the new commission was immediately criticised by
Operation Black Vote (OBV) for failing to address the issues of
inequality and racism.
Black Vote (OBV) said that "in her statement this morning,
the Secretary of State while attacking multiculturalism and segregation
as enemies of integration and cohesion, failed once to mention the
underlying roots of inequality, discrimination and racism that many
Muslim and BME communities face."
Woolley, OBV Director said: Any progress made to bring all communities
together and tackle all religious and political extremism in the
UK is to be welcome. However, the Minister's statement this morning
dangerously pre-empts the Commission's investigations and findings
in saying there was no longer 'near-uniform consensus on the value
of multiculturalism'. Furthermore, at no point does she state that
the terms of reference of the Commission will look at the underlying
issues of inequality, discrimination and racism in African, Asian
and Caribbean communities.
Viswanathan, OBV Assistant Director said: Any snapshot of the UK
in the 21st century that disregards the gross inequality and disadvantage
Muslim communities face will only exacerbate tensions between communities
and increase disadvantage. In not facing up to the reality what
it means to be Asian or Muslim, the Commission is setting itself
up to fail and lend succour to scaremongering tabloid headlines,
racists and the BNP.
Singh was appointed chair of the Commission in June and at today's
launch the other 13 commissioners were announced. They are: Professor
Michael Keith, Nargis Khan, Hamza Vayani, Leonie McCarthy, Frank
Hont, Harriet Crabtree, Ed Cox, Sam Tedcastle, Supt Steve Jordan,
Decima Francis, Steve Douglas, Dr Ebrahim Adia and Ramesh Kallidai.
Commission will now undertake a significant programme of consultation
and public meetings and events across the country. The first meeting
of the Commission will be held in September. Dates of further consultations
will be posted on the Commission's website. Recommendations are
expected in June 2007 and the Commission will report directly to
terms of reference are:
Examining the issues that raise tensions between different groups
in different areas, and that lead to segregation and conflict;
Suggesting how local community and political leadership can push
further against perceived barriers to cohesion and integration;
Looking at how local communities themselves can be empowered to
tackle extremist ideologies;
Developing approaches that build local areas' own capacity to
prevent problems, and ensure they have the structures in place
to recover from periods of tension.
ON INTEGRATION & COHESION
Darra Singh became chief executive of Ealing Council in April 2005
after four years as chief executive at Luton. He has led Ealing
Council's work to improve its services to tackle race hate crime
and is a member of the awards panel on the Let's Kick Racism Out
of Football campaign.
Michael Keith is an academic and director of the Centre for Urban
and Community Research (CUCR). He was also council leader for the
London Borough of Tower Hamlets where he helped transform the borough
marked by social polarisation and to a position where it was awarded
Beacon status for Community Cohesion in 2003-2004.
Nargis Khan is a Councillor in the London Borough of Hackney leading
on community services including community engagement. In 2002 Nargis
fed into the Cantle review of Community Cohesion, in particular
practical solutions in the role of political and community leadership.
She has also advised the Home Office-led task force 'Preventing
Extremism Together', with a focus on engaging women in Politics
and Public Life.
Dr Ebrahim Adia is a senior lecturer in education at the University
of Central Lancashire. He has a degree in Public Administration
and a doctorate in the field of policy analysis. Since 2002, Ebrahim
Aida has served as a local councillor in Bolton representing an
ethnically diverse ward with high levels of poverty and multiple
Hamza is the founder of the Leicester-based voluntary youth organisation,
Youth Voice, which was created following the riots in the Northern
cities and encourages young people to empower themselves. He has
worked with the Independent Police Commission on community cohesion
and led a BBC Radio 5 Live documentary following the 7/7 terrorist
attacks in London which won the Race In the Media Awards 2006 category
for Radio News.
Leonie McCarthy set up the British Red Cross Refugee Project in
Peterborough - the first project of its kind, delivering a one-stop
service to assist Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Migrant Workers to
access services and information within the city. Since July 2004
she has managed Peterborough's 'New Link New Arrivals Partnership'
- which supports and co-ordinates the integration of new arrivals
to the city. This won the 2005 UK National Housing Award for 'Excellence
in Promoting Community Cohesion'.
Frank Hont is the North West Regional Secretary of UNISON and has
been an active trade unionist for more than 30 years. He is a leading
advocate of UNISON's current campaigning work aimed at combating
racism. He has also been actively involved in a number of community
cohesion initiatives since the disturbances in the North West of
England in 2001 and is a member of the Board of the Migrant Workers
North West organisation.
Harriet Crabtree is Deputy Director of the Interfaith Network for
the UK. Her interfaith work has included being a member of the advisory
group set up to assist on the faith aspects of a range of Golden
Jubilee events, and she also helped organise the Golden Jubilee
Young People's Faith Forum.
Ed Cox works for the Local Government Information Unit on cohesion,
engagement and leadership issues. He is chair of Urban Forum, an
umbrella body for voluntary and community groups involved in urban
regeneration across the UK and also works as a Neighbourhood Renewal
Advisor with local authorities including Derby and Wolverhampton
Sam Tedcastle is Managing Director of The Participation - a Burnley
company which evolved after the disturbances in 2001 and focuses
its work on building meaningful dialogue between different groups
in order to improve services and community life.
Steve Jordan has some 28 years policing experience in all parts
of the West Midlands and has worked abroad commanding a police mission
to bring about peace and cohesion across opposing factions in the
closing months of the Bosnian war. He is currently an operational
police commander in Northwest Birmingham, in an area of very mixed
ethnic and religious make-up.
Decima Francis is founder and director of SASS, The From Boyhood
to Manhood Foundation (FBMF), Peace on the Streets, and the 'Calling
the Shots' anti gun crime initiative. FBMF, SASS's most successful
project was set up in 1997 and provides a service to young black
men who are failing in education, involved in high risk behaviour
and are in danger of educational or social exclusion. She was the
first and youngest black woman Director at the Royal National Theatre.
In June 2005, she was awarded an MBE for her work for the black
community in Southwark.
Steve Douglas is one of the most senior black people in the housing
sector and responsible for allocating £533m of grant to housing
associations in London. His proudest achievement is the completion
of a mixed development in Brick Lane, London's East End, which he
completed while at Spitalfields housing association. This not only
provided 40 homes for one of London's most deprived areas, it also
pulled together a number of agencies, including English Partnerships,
the Housing Corporation, and Tower Hamlets council, on a scale that
had not happened before.
Ramesh Kallidai is a community worker, journalist, IT consultant
and Public Relations specialist. He holds a post-graduate degree
in Business Computing, besides having board-level experience in
corporate communications, bid management, business development,
corporate finance, and Information Technology. He works as a consultant
with Fujitsu Services, and is also Secretary General of the Hindu
Forum of Britain.