“Bizarre and baseless” is how Batley’s MP has described a a think-tank’s claim that the town is one of the 10 worst-integrated communities in the country.
Jo Cox rejected Policy Exchange’s findings that Batley is the sixth most divided area in the UK and has pushed for more details on how the research was put together.
To mark its new unit on Demography, Immigration and Integration, the think-tank analysed the most recent Census data (2011) to produce a list of the “best” and “worst” places in the country for integration. It considers how well minorities living in those areas mix with other ethnic groups, in the way they work together or live in the same neighbourhoods. It also looks at how English minorities living in these areas feel.
Labour MP Mrs Cox said: “Batley is a great town, I’m proud to have been born here and I’m even prouder to represent it in Parliament.
“I have a strong suspicion that no one involved in this report has ever been to Batley. These are bizarre and baseless generalisations that show a dearth of understanding on every level.
“If they had visited our resilient town they could have met the Batley Poets and seen the great work that local white and Asian people are doing together. Or they could have visited local charities such as Royal Voluntary Service where volunteers from all backgrounds are supporting and helping each other every day. Integration is not about bricks and mortar, nor what streets people live on.
“It is very unhelpful to make baseless generalisations from a very narrow reading of five year old census data.”
The least-integrated places were identified as Boston, Wisbech, Oldham, Spalding, Bradford, Batley, Halifax, Blackburn, Keighley and Accrington. The top three most-integrated were said to be Amersham, Sutton Coldfield and Loughton.