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Bosses label anti-extremism' funds a waste

PUBLISHED: 15:25 21 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:17 25 August 2010

COUNCILLORS have slammed £12 million of government spending on stopping white extremism in working class areas as damaging and a waste of money .

COUNCILLORS have slammed £12 million of government spending on stopping white extremism in working class areas as "damaging" and "a waste of money".

Bromley council bid for and won part of the grant which aims to curb feelings that immigration has led to competition for social housing and jobs.

But it did not consult the councillors for Cray Valley and Mottingham which were selected in the government's first wave of an eventual 130 areas before it applied and now one wants his ward removed from the scheme altogether.

Cray Valley East (CVE) councillor Martin Curry's email written to the council on Monday, which was leaked to the Times, read: "Given the damage that this government is possibly going to do to community relations in CVE with this proposal, can we get CVE removed from this scheme?

"Also, can I have details of the proposals that were made, and the reason why ward councillors were not copied in to the request?"

The government announced Cray Valley and Mottingham had won the money last Wednesday. It wants the funds to be used in areas which could be harbouring potential right wing extremists who feel they have been 'forgotten' by the government. Making his announcement, communities secretary John Denham said it would be spent on finding out why people feel aggrieved and would "reconnect them with jobs and tackle the real and perceived sense of unfairness some people are feeling."

Cray Valley West councillor Colin Willetts admitted there was a casual racism in his ward but said it was not extreme.

He said: "I get comments like 'oh there's a black family moving in or there's a Muslim family. It's not extreme though, nobody says 'oh you big black b******'. There is a problem with the housing perceptions. People think ethnic minorities are getting pushed up the list."

Councillor for Cray Valley East David McBride said he hadn't experienced the same comments in his ward but added: "The council should've consulted us out of courtesy if nothing else. If the council perceives there to be a problem, they should have spoken to us."

A spokesperson for Bexley council said: "We recognise that there are some areas with greater needs due to higher rates of unemployment or deprivation. The council does not yet know how much money it is likely to receive, but we plan to use it to build on work to improve communications with residents to ensure that we understand the issues that concern them. We will be working with the police, housing associations, fire brigade and community groups. Our aim is to promote a well informed, interconnected and stronger community in areas where residents feel they are not being listened to.

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