Professor Ted Cantle: “Integration cannot be left to chance.”
by REENA KUMAR
An integration strategy giving power to deputy mayors should be implemented to heal deepening divisions that have emerged since the Brexit referendum, according to a new report on social cohesion.
The appointment of a new deputy mayor for integration in each region in Britain has been proposed in the new study from independent thinktank British Future.
Their role would be to improve relations between diverse community groups focusing on issues including housing and unemployment.
Professor Ted Cantle, author of a groundbreaking report after the 2001 race riots in northern England, is supporting the move.
He said: “Integration cannot be left to chance, it needs champions in every town and city – and all have different local issues which a deputy mayor can recognise and support. The deputy mayor can also create a real sense of partnership and purpose and bring together local businesses, schools, housing associations, faith organisations and local and voluntary agencies.”
“We need unity more than ever to respond to those that seek to create divisions. Deputy mayors can begin to build bridges and create a real sense of belonging in their areas and, most of all, to develop practical actions to help
all communities come to terms with change and build a common purpose.”
Voters will elect new mayors for six city regions including Manchester, the West Midlands and Liverpool this week.
The report sets out different challenges in each of the areas, which include using new housing powers to address the geographic segregation of different
faith and ethnic communities in Greater Manchester, particularly in areas
such as Oldham and Rochdale.
Addressing unemployment in Tees Valley has also been proposed as well as ensuring that refugees and asylum-seekers are helped to integrate.
In the West Midlands residents would be consulted on their views about integration, and pockets of segregation in inner city areas, where children may lack opportunities to mix with those from different ethnic and faith backgrounds, would be tackled.
Imam Qari Asim of Leeds Mosque said this new approach was more inclusive because the Casey Review, which examined integration and opportunity
in our most isolated and deprived communities, risked singling out Muslims.
“British Muslims do need to face up to specific challenges within our communities– but in focusing so extensively on Muslim integration, the review
risked making this a ‘Them and Us’ issue,” he said.
“New mayors will need to speak for all citizens in the new city-regions,
across different faith and ethnic communities. They’re uniquely placed to understand the integration challenges across a broad area – and to make
integration an issue that involves and matters to everybody,” Asim said.