RACE relations in Peterborough were the subject of a controversial secret report, which has been criticised for failing to paint a true picture of the city.
RACE relations in Peterborough were the subject of a controversial secret report, which has been criticised for failing to paint a true picture of the city.RACE relations in Peterborough were the subject of a controversial secret report, which has been criticised for failing to paint a true picture of the city. But for some members of the community, the document has highlighted issues that need to be addressed.
DURING his 30 days in the city, University of Hertfordshire academic Dr Roger Green talked to many people.
From community groups to police, his brief was to reveal the extent of race relations in Peterborough.
However, his report which accuses the city council of being "blind" to race problems and that racial views were "stuck in the 1950s" have left city leaders stunned.
Today, Charles Swift, who has seen many changes during his 47 years as a councillor, said it painted a picture of city he barely recognised.
He said: "I was upset to read the report because it suggests Peterborough is a divided city. It isn't an accurate description and it doesn't help our situation."
Dr Green's report was put together to inform the Government's East of England office about the extent of any racial tensions in Peterborough, following race riots in towns in the north of England last summer.
As reported in The Evening Telegraph, police said Dr Green's study ignored the good work which had been done to improve relations between all groups after the death of teenager Ross Parker, while council leader Cllr Neville Sanders called the findings "biased and inaccurate".
But does the report have any relevance? The answer is yes, according to Central ward councillor Nazim Khan, who said the report needed to be read and not rejected.
He said that in some cases, members of ethnic minorities felt their views were being "brushed aside".
Cllr Khan said: "The report is absolutely right. Cllr Sanders needs to sit down and look at what Dr Green is saying."
Fellow councillor, Mohammad Choudhary, who also represents Central ward, and who is chairman of Gladstone District Community Association said he agreed with the report's findings that race relations were generally good.
However, he felt, there were some issues that needed to be addressed.
He said: "The city leaders need to get together and look at the problems.
"People can say it has inaccuracies and brush it aside. But that is exactly what we need to avoid. ."
Labour group leader Cllr Anthea Cox said she hoped an outsider's view of the city would prove useful.
She said: "I think it's helpful to have someone coming in to look at the situation.
"My only frustration is that the report hasn't turned over every stone.
"We need to look closely at the attitudes of senior members of the council."
ET 'should be commended'
THE Evening Telegraph came under fire in Dr Roger Green's report. The newspaper was accused of insensitive reporting of race issues.
One of the accusations made against the newspaper was that we gave space to an accusation that a former Mayor of Peterborough was an illegal immigrant.
But the relevant article, in November 1996, was a front-page story calling for Conservative leader Neville Sanders to resign after he made comments against the then Mayor, Cllr Mohammad Choudhary.
The newspaper was also accused of "adding to any climate of racial and communal unrest" following the killing of 17-year-old Ross Parker.
But today an Asian community leader defended the newspaper.
Ghulam Shabbir, chairman of the city's Pakistani Community Association, worked with the police following the killing.
He said: "The report is damning of The Evening Telegraph, but I have been impressed by the way the newspaper handled the situation, and I do not agree with the report.
"The Evening Telegraph should be commended. That is also the opinion of everyone I have spoken to who has been working to maintain a peaceful Peterborough."
Peterborough Chief Superintendent Mark Hopkins has also praised the newspaper for its handling of the case.
Recent Evening Telegraph articles have included a report on the Unity football club, which aims to bring together youngsters from different neighbourhoods and backgrounds.