City vents anger at Bradford riot report

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The Independent Online
The long-awaited report on a weekend of rioting in Bradford, published yesterday, has met with disappointment and anger.

After 18 months of inquiries into the unrest, which caused more than pounds 1m damages in June last year, the 200-page document made no recommendations.

Instead, its three authors, led by the solicitor and former deputy town clerk John Barratt, presented a reflection of the views of people living and working in Manningham, the scene of the disturbances which were triggered by the arrest of a group of Asian youths playing a noisy game of football.

"Britain is awash with reports which make executive recommendations," Mr Barratt said. "Bradford has the expertise in the issues raised in the report ... they just need to be focused. The message is - read the report and ... debate the issues."

But there was clear disappointment and frustration in the reaction to the report, the validity of which has already been questioned after one of its authors, the trade unionist Mohammed Taj, refused to endorse it just days before publication.

Mohammed Amran, the chairman of the Young People's Forum, said the report was a waste of time. "We hoped for recommendations to show us the way forward," he said. "But all it seems to do is highlight criticisms of the Asian culture."

The document was commissioned by the Bradford Congress, which is made up of business and public-sector organisations, including the city council and West Yorkshire police.

Manwar Jan-Khan, a committee researcher who has studied the riots, said that the report represented a wasted opportunity and lost hope. "The report ... goes nowhere," he said.

Church leaders headed by the Bishop of Bradford, the Right Rev David Smith, said the fact that the report's authors were not in full agreement highlighted the need to continue a constructive approach to the difficult issues it had tried to address. In a statement, they said: "The report itself and Mr Taj's reasons for not being able to sign it deserve careful scrutiny."

The leader of Bradford council, Tony Cairns, said he was disappointed the report failed to recognise ongoing work to tackle social and economic problems of Manningham. He added: "We agree there must never be a repeat of the disturbances and that the key to that is tackling poverty, unemployment and the attendant social stress."

The chief constable of West Yorkshire police, Keith Hellawell, said more time was needed to study the report.

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