BRADFORD is “heading towards disaster” and the Council has allowed racial hatred and the perception of fear to “become a real problem”, the chairman of a scrutiny committee has warned.

Councillor Arshad Hussain, who chairs Bradford Council’s corporate overview and scrutiny committee, said there were”many areas in this city” where people were afraid to go, depending on their ethnicity.

Cllr Hussain (Lab, Toller) branded the situation a “horrible state of affairs” as the committee discussed a new report on community cohesion and how the Council’s diversity and cohesion team was working to strengthen community relations. The report said the team was working with all religious groups and other organisations in its response to the Louise Casey report on opportunity and integration, which gives recommendations to the government.

But Cllr Hussain said the work being done by the team was not enough and said too many people were “scared to speak up in case they caused offence”.

He said: “Community relations in this city were a lot better 25 years ago. Are we really achieving what we are supposed to be achieving? I don’t think so. Last month on Bonfire Night in my ward, three pubs were stoned by Asian youths.”

The Red Lion and Round Thorn pubs, in Thornton Road, were among those targeted on November 5.

“These were the only white businesses in the area. No Asian businesses were attacked. They were targeted because they were white.” he added.

“I am really cheesed off with things like this. There are so many areas in this city where white people are scared to go into. Likewise there are other areas where Asian people are scared to go into. That is a horrible state of affairs and it should never have got to this stage. Perhaps you should start to do things in a different way. You tend to use the same organisations time and time again. Perhaps you should start delivering on the doorstep and getting new groups on board because I think we are heading towards disaster.

“There has been a huge increase in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Hate crime has risen threefold but the majority still is not reported. The biggest challenge for you is to acknowledge there is a problem, rather than being in denial and then work accordingly.”

Cllr Simon Cooke (Con, Bingley Rural) said: “At a recent event at the synagogue there were armed police posted outside. Is that an example of community cohesion that a Jewish event needed police protection? I think we are kidding ourselves. I represent thousands of people who never come into Bradford and I am only five miles up the road. They say they don’t feel safe. That’s the reality. And I am sure there are people who live in Girlington who would prefer not to come to Cullingworth and I don’t like that. The perception of what Bradford is like is the problem. Mention danger drivers and who comes to mind?

“And integration. Both sides don’t want to integrate.”

Councillor Vanda Greenwood (Lab, Windhill and Wrose) said: “There is a real problem of people’s perception of Bradford. My daughter is 23 and she and her friends say they will not come into Bradford for a drink or night out because they say there are gangs of Asian males hanging around. They say they do not feel safe and instead go to Leeds. You are working here on high level stuff, but it is mostly with religious people and their ethos is to be caring anyway. You need to get into the streets.”

Councillor Cath Bacon (Lab, Keighley West) added: “It is the xenophobic and racial section of society that you need to reach. We have people goose-stepping outside the asylum seekers’ centre in Keighley centre.”

Presenting the report, Ian Day, the Council’s assistant director for neighbourhood and customer services, said there was work going on with the communities and there was funding for that work. He said: “I do recognise that there is more work to do. Funding resources are being put into areas where there are entrenched views.”

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Abdul Jabar, executive member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said: “Much of the discussion (at the meeting) was around perceptions and that’s something we all, as councillors, and as Bradford district residents have a responsibility to change.

“If crimes are committed that’s a different matter. Working with the police, we will always act regardless of anyone’s faith or cultural background if they have committed a crime.”

He said, in general, people agreed that Bradford district was a welcoming city where people get on with each other and added that the report outlined some amazing work taking place by a wide range of groups and individuals.

Members voted to welcome the report and asked officers to make a note of the comments made.

Supt Alisa Newman, partnerships lead at Bradford District Police, said: “Police in Bradford District are committed to maintaining public safety and work with Bradford Council and other agencies to make sure that any tensions within communities are closely monitored and where offences have been committed appropriate action will be taken.

“Our neighbourhood teams have built excellent links with their local communities and work hard to make sure these relationships are maintained and developed, so that people whether living, working or visiting Bradford, can feel safe in their respective areas.”