Commons Gate

Social Cohesion (2)

ODPM Committee Social Cohesion (2), 17 Sep 2003

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Evidence presented by Paul Sheehan, Chief Executive, Calderdale MBC, Rodney Green, Chief Executive, Leicester City Council and Ben Brown, Assistant Director, Asylum Services, L B Haringey: Paul Makin, Deputy Director, Education and Cultural Services Directorate, Oldham MBC, Bernard Phillips, Headteacher, Breeze Hill Secondary School, Maureen Haddock, Headteacher, Burnley Brow Primary School, Nick Brown, Principal, Oldham VI Form College and Kashif Ashraf, Diversity Manager, Connexions; Cllr David Jones, Leader of the council, Cllr Howard Sykes, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Andrew Kilburn, Chief Executive and Andrew Fletcher, Assistant Chief Executive (Corporate Policy), Oldham MBC; Fr Phil Sumner, Abdul Basit Shah and Mahesh Nimavat, Oldham inter-Faith Forum on 17 September 2003

Q155 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): May I ask you all, what makes a cohesive community?

Mr Green: I think a cohesive community is a community that has naturally many cross-links, where people from different race, age, background, feel free and happy to mix together in housing, in education, in leisure facilities. One test of that in my experience in Leicester is the willingness and ability to talk frankly and openly face to face about quite sensitive issues. If your language in a community is very politically correct, if you are treading on thin ice all the time and always being polite, that is not a cohesive community; it is a careful community. Let us take an issue which is fraught with difficulties: marriage. You have a love match approach, so-called, in the west. You have perhaps a three-generational family working together to arrange a marriage in a different culture. You have the concept of forced marriages. Can you talk frankly about these things without ending up feeling that there is a row about to break out? In a healthy, cohesive community you can. You can address very complex issues: faith schools, ghettoes, choice. Masses and masses of cross-links are at the heart of a cohesive community.

Mr Sheehan: I think dictionaries define "cohesiveness" as a force which binds together, so anything which tends to pull things apart could be seen as a threat to cohesion. The textbook stuff that the LGA and the Home Office and others have come up with is communities that have a common vision, a preparedness and ability to work together towards something of a common aim, and strong and positive values given to different cultures, different attitudes, different opinions. As Rodney has said, where these are tolerated and spoken of openly and with fairness and equalness they tend to be indicators of a cohesive community, so the things that bind rather than the things that pull apart.

Q156 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): When you talk about cohesion and integration, are they the same or are they different?

Mr Sheehan: They are different.

Mr Brown: There is a difference. Staying with the theme of cohesion, there is no doubt that Haringey, for example, has been a long-standing community in terms of its diversity, and has seen many groups come in at different times, where they have had to fit in for a variety of reasons. Doing that to date in Haringey has been quite reasonable because people have been fitted in and been able to understand where each other is coming from. The problem now is that people have come in so fast and in larger numbers that the indigenous population are finding it hard to be able to understand some of the cultures and mores of the groups that are coming in, and unless we work on that and are able to pull that together better we are heading for problems.

Q157 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is there a difference between community and social cohesion?

Mr Green: I think there is a slight difference in all these phrases. Whether they are important differences I am not so sure. The emphasis in my use of social exclusion and social cohesion (and everybody uses these words slightly differently) is really on the economic and social dimensions. The community cohesion tends to add to that; it is not different from it. Add to that the race dimension and I think the idea of integration can be interpreted, particularly by minority communities, as implying a loss of identity, which is why I prefer the phrase "cross-links" rather than "integration" because integration can mean you are just absorbed into the lowest common denominator. These nuances in debate can be very significant, depending on who your audience is.

Mr Sheehan: There is nothing I would add to that.


Q167 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Quite rightly the local authority is the main player in all this, but how can a local authority engage the other partners in the voluntary, community and private sectors in this whole social cohesion agenda?

Mr Sheehan: I do not think organisations do these things; I think people do these things. Where partnership works well it works because the individuals in those organisations trust their peers and their colleagues in other organisations. If you looked for Calderdale Council you could find it; it does not exist. There is a town hall, there are elected members, there are officers. It does not live and breathe. People make relationships that stand. How we approach our partners, how we approach stakeholders in the community is the way that makes things work well or otherwise. You simply have to do that from something like a common agenda and that is the trick. The health sector in Calderdale probably spends more than we do as a local authority combined in all of its manifestations, so we have to have common agendas to make sure that the vast sums that we are spending are being used in a way that we all think is right. Organisations do not do that; people do that, and it is about trust between individuals.

Q168 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is the LSP the right place to do it?

Mr Sheehan: We are not a neighbourhood renewal authority so we have an LSP because we think it is a useful tool, not because a minister said we should do. We have had 22 years of community partnership working, the first community partnership authority in the country, so we do this because we think it makes a difference. When we recruit senior people in all of the organisations in Calderdale we do not look for people who are territorial in the way that they do these things because the boundaries between our organisations are falling all the time.

Q169 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): You talk about the importance of people; that is what it is all about, so how do you ensure that the balances and strategies which are worked out at the organisational level are translated into action on the ground?

Mr Sheehan: What we would seek to do is to thrash out simple and common aims, and from common aims action plans that mean something. Simplify and simplify again. That is often very difficult with between 70 or 80 plans required of a metropolitan authority from central government, 19 alone in education. Putting the local flavour, that trust thing, into a framework which is so heavily regulated is a challenge but it works because people are prepared to do it.

Q170 Chairman: Do not a lot of people turning up to these partnership meetings actually think it is a chance to go and have a rest from doing the real work and are rather cynical that they do a lot of talking but nothing really happens? How do you convince them that things happen as a result of these meetings?

Mr Green: Can I give an example of presenting this report to the Leicester partnership? The Leicester Partnership said that this was the single most stimulating report they had received since they had formed three or four years previously and we now have an action plan that we are trying to develop with the partnership. Of course, what you have said is true of some partnerships some of the time. This is just part of the life of partnerships. I would not want to convey the impression that these formal, very visible partnerships are what partnership is all about. They are part of what partnership is about, so, to answer the question that you were asking earlier: how do you know it has been translated into practice, I would want to be able to cut into any part of the life and services that Leicester produces and satisfy myself that here in this small operation of housing or education there is evidence of partnership working in engagement here on the ground as well as across the city, and in the business plans and strategy documents there is an overt and explicit commitment to trying to promote community links and community cohesion. That is the starting point. If it is not there you are not going to see it on the ground.

Mr Sheehan: Your point is well made. There are too many partnerships. They are being required of local authorities for unreasonable reasons. Eighty-five thousand pounds a year community facilitation ground: form a new partnership. We have got partnerships coming out of our ears. The people who can do this could have done it through existing vehicles but there was a requirement to create a completely new partnership, spend £85,000 and you have cracked it.

Mr Brown: Can I say on behalf of our chief executive that what he would want to say is that we are very much a corporate authority in terms of the way in which we approach things. Internally we must be seen to be working with each other and actively produce something from working with each other. That is a key theme that goes right through. He believes, to use the jargon, in walking the walk and talking the talk to make sure that we get out there and meet with people. He does it himself. He is there, he meets with staff, he meets with the communities.

Q171 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): What does the mainstream community cohesion mean in the context of your local authority?

Mr Sheehan: Putting it at or near the top of all our planning processes, that it is interwoven into everything we do.

Q172 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): How is it working out?

Mr Sheehan: With larger or lesser degrees of success in different parts of the enterprise.


Q182 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Mr Sheehan touched before on the question of segregated housing areas. I got the impression you were saying let the communities decide. Do we think that they should or could there be anything done to deal with the question of segregation in residential areas?

Mr Sheehan: Yes. I would commend choice and choice has historically tended to lead to concentration of minority groups in certain areas. I do not think society has the right to regulate where people live but I do believe we have a responsibility to facilitate the opportunity to live in other areas, so we have supported over a number of years the Nashanan(?) Housing Association which seeks to provide opportunities for people from minority ethnic communities to live in different places than they otherwise would do. They have adjusted the way that they operate because people still want to live near their support mechanisms, their food supply and religious support and so forth. I support choice and individual freedoms but we as a local authority and as a series of public sector organisations have a responsibility to facilitate choice wherever we can and we seek to do that in a whole range of different ways. I would commend to you that there is a new kid on the block in terms of economic regeneration and housing and the Committee might well put some time into it on another occasion, and that is the role of the regional development agencies in funding these kinds of things. We are pushing to make sure in our case that Yorkshire Forward has cohesion as an issue. It has job generation. Its targets from central government do not include community cohesion. Its targets from central government all talk about generating jobs. Jobs are generated in large numbers on greenfield sites on the edge of major cities with good motorway access. That does not necessarily help the people of Halifax.

Q183 Chairman: So are you giving Yorkshire Forward a thumbs-down?

Mr Sheehan: It is early days. The jury is out.

Q184 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Local authorities have a planning role and a strategic housing role. They less and less have a direct role in the provision of housing, so they all can have a tremendous influence over this. Should they be exercising that influence and, if so, how?

Mr Sheehan: We look at the way that we have development throughout the borough. We will seek wherever we have got either brownfield or greenfield development from the commercial sector to have affordable housing built into that and affordable housing of a type which is suitable for the kinds of communities that we are trying to serve. We will therefore try to make opportunities available to people to move. We have housing association allocation rights and we use those in areas to facilitate people's move from the areas of traditional concentration, if that is something that they would wish to bring about, and it happens to an extent, but in Halifax, as in other parts of the country, we still have largely segregated communities.

Mr Green: Can I just endorse that with a very quick comment? I was hoping at the end to have the chance to suggest three things that the Government ought to be doing to promote this agenda. One of them is to recognise that much of this agenda, although not all of it, is around urban deprivation and the importance of providing incentives for development in brownfield areas lies at the heart of this. If you do not look at taxation and fiscal and other ways in which you can promote brownfield development, you are taking one of your arms and tying it behind your back, so incentives for urban regeneration on brownfield disadvantages need to be looked at.

Mr Brown: There are some real issues for us in terms of how segregation is caused and the effects of it. One of them is the fact that we as a London borough are perhaps one of the cheaper London boroughs in terms of housing and therefore there is a tendency for others to place people within Haringey and we have no control over that. Certainly one of the things we would like is much more control over that and over who can or cannot place in and use Haringey properties. There is only so much it can take. Tensions will grow and are growing because of that. For example, with asylum seekers again, the National Asylum Seeker Service allows people just to be placed in Haringey and they will make that choice. That means that we are getting a lot more than perhaps we should. Other local authorities will also place within Haringey because it is cheaper for them to do so. That again adds to our problems, and they will always be in the more deprived areas like the east of Haringey, Tottenham and what-have-you. That is where we will therefore get a lot of our problems, and it is harder in those areas to convince people about the benefits of regeneration, what we can do within the areas, when we have this going on.

Q185 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): When you say that other local authorities are placing in Haringey, in what way do they do that? Are they buying up properties in Haringey?

Mr Brown: For example, NASS has something like 200 properties.

Q186 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Are you talking about the asylum seekers?

Mr Brown: That is one area, but again we have homelessness; we have a problem there. We have 4,000 waiting to be housed on our homeless list and a lot will come in from outside. We do not know them. They will just turn up; they will be there and they are taking properties all the time. The private rental market will always take them on because people are willing to pay and we are not, or we want to barter them down, and they can get a higher price somewhere else and they will do that.

Q187 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): I thought the point you were making was about other local authorities placing in Haringey but this is specifically the asylum seeking problem you are talking about there?

Mr Brown: In the main it is an asylum seeker problem but it is other local authorities placing asylum seekers within our area.


Q192 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Leicester is a pathfinder authority and Calderdale is a shadow pathfinder authority. How do you find this scheme? Is it proving helpful?

Mr Green: It is very helpful for us. As I said earlier, if this agenda is not to get tired and predictable it needs constant innovation and creativity and it needs small sums of money. Programmes like this enable us to experiment. We are doing some really imaginative things with the pathfinder scheme which we probably would not have done unless we had had this additional money.

Q193 Chairman: Such as?

Mr Green: We focused it entirely on youth because we are a young city. Fifty per cent of our population at the younger age range are already black and ethnic minority. Leicester will become Europe's first majority black city, so all of that money is going to youth. I can give you three or four examples. One is about media skills. All the media - newspaper, print, radio and television - are working with us to help young people learn how to communicate their aims, their objectives, their aspirations, in a way that is sensitive to other cultures, and we are hoping they may spill that over into training reporters as well because they have got a thing or two to learn in this area. A second example would be in conflict resolution. The voluntary sector are getting training in how to resolve conflicts and tension which arise because, as we have said, the fact that we are a beacon does not mean we do not have tensions and difficulties. We are trying to foster - and this is my second point that I think the Government really needs to focus on; this is a tiny project but it is a huge issue - the Federation of Schools in much closer curriculum management and leadership links where you are building really close allegiances between this school and its governors and its community and teaching and the curriculum with that school in a totally different community, so that I am not just seeing boys and girls at a dance once a year; I am being taught with them maths and history and English and so on. We are trying to do some experimentation both within Leicester and between Leicester and Wigan, which is a very mono-cultural city and very different, to see what will emerge from those kinds of things. A fourth area is street culture. White working class people are proud of their street culture. At my age I am not even sure what street culture is but it needs to be celebrated and understood and we are using pathfinder to do that as well. It is very helpful on a small scale.


Q197 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): So are you getting the type of support you require from the Government in terms of the pathfinder areas?

Mr Green: It is good and they are giving good support. It is small beer; I do not want to exaggerate it, but sometimes these small acorns turn into big trees and I think the work around the Federation could be really significant. I am never going to be negative when somebody is giving me even a small amount of money.

Q198 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Can we turn to the Race Relations Act 2000 which places a duty on local authorities not only to eliminate unlawful race discrimination but also to promote good relations between people of different races? What difference has this made to the treatment of race issues by local authorities?

Mr Brown: In terms of Haringey, Haringey has had to deal with issues of race relations for many years. What we are finding in terms of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act is that it is placing a bit of an onus on us in terms of the work that we need to be seen to be doing as opposed to what we are doing. We believe in it, we want it, we want the Race Relations Act to work and we certainly would use it as a way of improving relationships between all groups. What we want to be careful about is that it does not become too top-heavy in terms of having to produce information and records that may well be meaningful to others but are not as meaningful as what is actively going on on the ground. It is important, yes, but I would want to say that the history of Haringey shows that it has really been taking on the issues of improving race relations for as long as I can remember.

Q199 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): But is that concentrated on equal opportunities or on community cohesion?

Mr Brown: No. It is literally in terms of issues around race, in terms of trying to ensure that we properly represent people and that people have an equal chance. The make-up of the council is something like 33 per cent of black and ethnic minority groups in terms of members and that shows a willingness on behalf of Haringey to ensure that they do embrace and bring in people from minority ethnic cultures to be part of the council and to represent their communities as well as others.

Mr Sheehan: It is a good thing; it is onerous in terms of the documentation and so forth that has to be prepared. That is a challenge, but it raises some interesting things that we have not faced yet but I anticipate we might do because the more public we are about what we are doing for minority ethnic communities the more it will raise a bias question in the minds of those who would have such things raised. It needs to be done with wisdom and some skill and simply pressing publicly always to justify it raises the potential for cohesion issues to arise. It is a good thing, challenging, but it needs to be done with great sensitivity.

Q200 Chairman: I suspect you have taken the opportunity to make all the points that you came intending to make but if there is one last word you would like to leave us with now is your chance.

Mr Green: I have given you two of my ideas.

Q201 Chairman: You have given us a long shopping list.

Mr Green: I will give you a third to add to your shopping list. With the issues that Britain faces over the next 20 or 30 years in terms of persons from abroad coming to this country with the wars that we are aware of in Iraq, in Kashmir and so on, EU enlargement, 160 million new people able to move to this country, there is no provision at the moment when large influxes of population move to a certain area to provide any kind of up-front financial support. Leicester has accommodated 10,000 Somalis within less than two years without any additional funding. That means teachers having ten, 20, 30 children appearing at their school door who do not speak English with no additional resources until the following year when their enumeration brings resources in. We need a new and more proactive and creative policy for funding large movements of population exceptionally. Otherwise the tensions that will produce, particularly for the indigenous community, will be very severe.

Mr Sheehan: Remove the parent/child relationship between central and local government. This is a bad and vertically integrated responsibility. Let us find a way of the state dealing with the issue with the same sense of ownership approach.


Q217 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Mr Makin mentioned before the school linking scheme and that copies of the evaluation were available. Having whetted our appetite perhaps he would like to tell us what key lessons have been learned from that.

Mr Makin: : The evaluation was very thorough. As I say, we have a nice glossy copy of that for you. The detail is embedded within that. The key messages were that the linking project is a good thing. It is successful and we are making progress with the young people who are engaged in it. The other messages that come through are that we need to do more of it. It is important to emphasise that the linking project that the Committee visited yesterday is one of a number of approaches to integration. Others include sports development initiatives like Unity. If you think it is appropriate, Maureen Haddock was the person who undertook the evaluation, given that she is a very clear thinker with regard to community cohesion, so with regard to the outcomes of that evaluation Maureen is probably better at doing a potted version of it.

Ms Haddock: : The main recommendation is that what the council needs to articulate is strategy for community cohesion. What I found was that we have a plethora of initiatives, many very good ones, but the council did not know all of them. They did not know which ones worked, so what in Oldham what we are trying to do is build young people, build children, build families, help to develop attitudes, help to develop citizens, get people to think what does it mean to be a citizen of Oldham, this particular, peculiar and wonderful place that we live in. The council needed to think about how they could articulate a strategy that is accessible to the people of Oldham, to families, to children. That was the first thing. Then it was to embed things like the linking project into all schools, to extend it to all schools, to include secondary schools, and also the Unity project, which was a project that came about mainly based on sports, which came in response to the riots, so to look at how those two linked together. It was also to look at the whole notion of citizenship. It was to put council funding into this project, to look at admissions, to really look and see if there were ways in which we could perhaps do some small-scale tinkering around admissions, perhaps a piece of social research, to look at a project, say, where you support a school that has space, say a predominantly white school, to encourage some Asian families to go there to see how we can support them, and to use all the things that we have got in Oldham. We have wonderful cultural awareness training, so we could train the teachers. We have philosophical inquiries so we can work with the children. We have all these things that we could put together in this piece of research. I could go on and on but I will stop after this one. Then there is the impact: is what we do in Oldham worth doing unless we measure the impact? It has to make an impact on children's attitudes, on their approach and how they feel about culture and how they feel about diversity. Unless we change and develop attitudes then we may be doing very enjoyable things but it is not really about being communities together. We would love a project like the Seven-Up, 13-Up, 21-Up television programme, which I am sure you remember. We would like to look at young children in Oldham and to see whether all the wonderful things we are doing in Oldham work and then to measure the attitude when they are 21.

Q218 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is it achieving a change in the attitudes of primary school children?

Ms Haddock: : It is succeeding in developing them.

Q219 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Will the scheme have to be changed when it is moved on to the secondary stage?

Ms Haddock: : My report looked primarily at primary, and again the council is aware that what they need to do is to look at all the wonderful things that are going on in secondary education. We have not been good about celebrating what is good in Oldham.

Mr Makin: : If I may follow on from what Maureen has said to describe the recommendations since the first draft of the report was published, which was about six months ago, since then we have strengthened the personnel who are involved in linking projects. We now have a full time co-ordinator. We have appointed an adviser with responsibility for community cohesion and we have added further investment into that and commissioned an evaluation of secondary school initiatives, so certainly all of the recommendations we agree with wholeheartedly and have backed those up with additional funding and ensured that the strategy is now well articulated. We feel as though the piece of research identified a number of very firm recommendations and we are building on those.

Q220 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Is it envisaged that this will ultimately lead to more mixed intakes?

Mr Makin: : That is the aim. What we want is for people to choose to be together. That is our long term vision. We are involved in some partnership work in Northern Ireland. We have a group of MPs and headteachers going to Belfast on Monday, the second of a number of visits. Mediation Northern Ireland are working with us and they have identified the very long term nature of this challenge that we have, so although we are not in any way pessimistic about that because we realise it is long term, we are conscious that we are not going to fix it overnight. It is our aim for people to choose to be together. If we start with young people, as we are doing, we are very confident that we can achieve that but it is a long job.

Q221 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Having talked about the primary and secondary sectors, can I ask Mr Brown about the VI Form College? He described it as a multi-racial population. Would you say that you have a good mix of pupils in that college?

Mr Brown: Yes, we have a very good mix of pupils. The college was built very courageously by the local authority. It was the first purpose-built one for something like 25 years at the time. It was hoped that it would go to 700 strong. We have over 2,000 now. When we started the intake from Asian heritage families was about 17 per cent and it is now 34 per cent. Of that 34 per cent 80 per cent of those go on to HE and that was completely unknown before. The fact that it is multi-racial (and it is the same with Oldham College) makes it much stronger. What we have found is that it is very hard to change attitudes but you can shift perceptions and if you shift perceptions you alter behaviour and you end up with a group of people who go through something, like it, feel valued, and they are different and they are going to be the ones who come back and lead the town in the future. There are some difficulties. For instance, the highest achieving group at the VI Form College at A level are Bangladeshi young women and yet only 60 per cent of those go on to HE. One of the reasons for that is that we do not have the facilities in Oldham. The council, along with the colleges, has quite bravely built a bespoke HE provision within Oldham but it is run on a shoestring and if we could do something about that then we would make sure that more of these students whose talent is unlocked could go on to HE and then become the movers and shakers. What my experience has shown in 13 years at the VI Form College is that there is a huge reservoir of untapped talent out there and once students do mix together in an atmosphere that is courteous and structured they like it.

Q222 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Do you actively promote that mixing?

Mr Brown: Yes.

Q223 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Particularly though you have students coming from mono-cultural schools or residential areas which are dominated by a single type of resident?

Mr Brown: Yes, we do. We monitor them as they go through. I have got satisfaction surveys when the students go out that ask about satisfaction in terms of, "Would you come to this college again? Would you recommend it to someone? Has it treated you with respect?". Ninety-four per cent is the lowest register of satisfaction that we have had.


Q226 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): At this moment you are having a new intake. Is this a particularly tense time in terms of race relations between new pupils coming in?

Mr Brown: No, because they want to be there. I think we have developed a certain reputation. It is a very informal college but we have two things that we adhere to which people want. One is that to come to the college you have to work hard and, two, you have to be courteous. We do not tolerate anything else and that is what students like.

Q227 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): There are no problems at all in that sense?

Mr Brown: No. Occasionally, when people do infringe it, and it is very rare, I enforce the sanctions. I think if you were to come to the college, or Oldham College for that matter, you would find that it works extremely well. Nowhere is perfect, of course.


Q243 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): This session was dedicated to education but the education part has also been contributing to the council's cultural services. Does that include sport?

Mr Makin: : It includes sports development as well.

Q244 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Perhaps, Mr Makin, you might tell us if community cohesion is the theme of the council's arts and sports development work. If so, how does that manifest itself?

Mr Makin: : As I said at the beginning, it is embedded in all of the work that we do. If you looked through any of the service plans throughout the department you would see that community cohesion was writ large within some very specific initiatives. In sports development, for example, there is the Unity programme which was triggered as a result of the civil disturbance a couple of years ago. That has certainly taken flight and is very successful. Again, the focus of that activity has been bringing young people together from different communities to celebrate their achievements through sport; not only that, but also for them to form friendships that move on into secondary schools, and that is something that shows that there is a lot of good work in sports development. The other thing that sports development is doing is running a lot of the courses that Kashif was referring to during the holidays, the Summer Splash, for example, where we had thousands of young people getting together this summer to play sport together. The good thing is that once those Summer Splash activities finish those activities continue, so there are very structured pathways into sports teams in a wider forum. That is one example. The other arms of the department are the libraries' information archives which have a very firm hold on community cohesion where the basic skills training within the libraries is available in the three predominant languages. There is also The Gallery and if you have an opportunity to look at the programme here it is very firmly focused on community cohesion. One recent activity was looking at Glodwick. The residents of Glodwick had families from across Oldham and this activity was looking at shared experience, for example. They also run a number of art courses which enable people to celebrate and find out about culturally diverse activities. One thing I would emphasise about Oldham is that it is not just about race and it is not just about community cohesion from a racial standpoint. There are big issues about inter-generational mixing and certainly The Gallery is very focused on that. There are lots of different facets and one that I would like to mention which certainly fits into what Kashif was saying is the Youth Service. The whole focus of their work is bringing people together from different communities, and certainly a recent video that they have published is gaining some national recognition as it has young people standing up and saying what they have learned from each other. It is a very strategic joined-together approach.

Q245 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Who produced the video?

Mr Makin: : The young people themselves, with support from the Youth Service.


Q251 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): What part do the black and ethnic minority community take in the political process? How many council representatives do they have? Do they involve themselves in the political parties?

Cllr Jones: : Yes, very much so. In terms of the Labour Group, we have nine black and ethnic minority members of the Labour Group. In fact, it is a greater proportion than the proportion in the population of the town. It would be true to say, and it is an issue which was raised within the independent review, that there are particular problems about political organisation with the black and ethnic minority groupings and that is to do with the badri(?), the clan system, the family system. I do not think that the clan and family system within the communities in Oldham has served the political process well.

Cllr Sykes: : David has nine in his group and there are three in mine. That is 12 but they are all men, which is an issue. I would emphasise the point that David made about that system, which in some senses is that the linkages of it are stronger in the badri system here in Oldham, and that is a result of inward-looking communities, particularly people from the Asian sub-continent, than they are maybe in their country of heritage where perhaps people have moved on or the links are slightly looser. I think that does cause problems in the way that traditional political parties would organise within those communities, which causes myself and David, I have no doubt, grief on some occasions.


Q254 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Do the political parties have any positive programmes for encouraging more involvement by the black and ethnic minority communities?

Cllr Jones: : I can only speak on behalf of the Labour Party. This year, through the process of selection of candidates, it has been a regional process which has reserved one seat in every winnable ward for a female candidate. I have to admit we have not been very successful in bringing forward women from the black and ethnic minority communities or from the indigenous population, but we are working to breaking down the badri system here in listing people who do not have a vested interest in order to make sure that they have a say in the way in which we select our candidates.


Q295 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): What have you looked at in terms of good practice from other local authorities, and if you have come across good practices which have you adopted?

Mr Kilburn: : We have been working with the Improvement Development Agency. We have looked at particular areas. I suppose if you take one, we are looking currently at our IT and are working with Kirklees who have invested significantly in recent years in ways that we need to do. The advantage of that is that they have clearly had some difficulties in certain areas and we can learn from them. In terms of some of the wider community issues, Leicester were here earlier and referred to the detailed report that was undertaken on their behalf. We are going through that and trying to see if there are lessons and issues there for us. In each area we are trying to explore best practice for those two examples.

Q296 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Do you think you receive the support you need as a shadow pathfinder area?

Mr Kilburn: : In terms of community cohesion?

Q297 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): Yes.

Mr Kilburn: : I do not think shadow pathfinder means a great deal, to be honest. In terms of the issues we face had we been a pathfinder it would have been beneficial, but being first reserve in that particular game was not helpful.

Q298 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): How could it be improved?

Mr Kilburn: : I think you have either to be a pathfinder or not. It is as simple as that. People were trying to soften the blow but ultimately you either receive the money or you do not.

Q299 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): More generally, what would you like the various government departments and agencies do to help you deliver?

Mr Kilburn: : I think there is an increased recognition of the longstanding problems that we face. We have tackled the issues in terms of starting to build confidence with government. I do not want to appear repetitive but it does seem to me that the Housing Market Renewal Fund, in terms of both the scale of resources and the longevity of the programme, is precisely the way that we need to go. Ideally what we would be doing would be preparing a programme of activity for Oldham across the range of activities in which we are involved and submitting that for approval rather than the still very bitty lines of funding for which one is continually applying. Weaving those together to make sense is not the easiest thing to do. By way of example, we had a meeting with the Crime and Disorder Executive last Friday and we took a report on the funding. One could either view it as a masterpiece in terms of the way that we have drawn funding from 27 different sources or a complete dog's breakfast in terms of trying to deliver some sensible and central objectives. I am an optimist; I take the former view. We are getting on with it, but it is not a sensible way to fund what is obviously a key objective for us.

Q300 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): In terms of the cohesion agenda is it clear in your mind what the division of responsibilities is between the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Home Office, for instance?

Mr Kilburn: : It is becoming increasingly clear. In the aftermath of 2001 there was inevitably a great wish on behalf of the Government to be seen to be active, in the same way that there was in many local authority areas.


Q328 Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge): So in an all-white area you think faith schools are damaging social cohesion?

Fr Sumner: : I am only speaking from an Oldham perspective. I think faith schools can be of use elsewhere but here, as I have seen them in Oldham, they need to be challenged as to what they are doing. I do not think we are doing sufficient.

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