Headlines: January 5th, 2007



Regeneration programmes will be the focus of the first of four seminars being organised to provide evidence for the Commission on Integration and Cohesion and which will begin later this month. The events, which will take place in different parts of the country, are to be run by the Local Government Information Unit as a route though which local authority members and officers can contribute to the debate on cohesion and integration.

Each of the seminars will look at a number of key themes. The first, scheduled for January 23rd, will take place in Oldham and will look at the vital role that regeneration programmes, planning and urban design can all play in relation to addressing the issues of cohesion and integration. The LGiU says that regeneration schemes were reported to have been a source of the tension that led to disturbances in 2001 but that recent research has suggested that planning and urban design can also facilitate interaction between different groups and build integration. Speakers at the opening seminar will include Oldham Council’s Chief Executive, Andrew Kilburn, Phil Wood, the author of ‘Planning and Engaging With Intercultural Communities’ and Atul Patel, Chief Executive, ASRA – Greater London Housing Association.

The second seminar will be in London on February 6th and will look at council communications and the way that myths and misinformation can damage community cohesion. It will explore changes in extremist behaviour, taking account of emerging extremist views among faith groups, and the impact of the racist activities of far right political parties in spreading rumours. The event will also consider what local authorities can do through community activities and effective communications.

Two representatives from local authorities in the North West, Bruce Penhale from Oldham and Mike Wait, Head of Community Engagement and Cohesion at Burnley Council, will be among the speakers who will also include Sally Sealey-Kyambadde from the Cohesion and Faiths Unit at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The Commission on Integration and Cohesion was set up last August under the chairmanship of Darra Singh, Chief Executive of Ealing Council. It is due to report in June this year. Two further LGiU seminars will take place in March.