UK: Language should not be a barrier in Bucks

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Jun 10 16:23:42 UTC 2006

Language should not be a barrier in Bucks

WYCOMBE'S ethnic minority communities were told in no uncertain terms this
week that they should learn to speak and read English. The subject came up
at Wycombe District Council's cabinet meeting on Monday during discussion
of a report on the council's equality policy. The policy is there to
ensure that people are fairly treated, regardless of their race, sex, or

The council was rated level five last year for its policy, which was as
high as any other council in the country and at least two places higher
than other councils in Buckinghamshire. But Labour councillor Rafiq Raja
wanted to how many of the council's senior staff came from the ethnic
minority community and whether they reflected the ethnic make up of the
district. He then asked whether the council's newspaper, Community Voice,
which goes to all homes in the district, should be available in different
languages.  When something had gone out in Urdu, people really liked it,
he said.

Wendy Mallen said she hoped the council would appoint on merit, not
proportionality and Audrey Jones said the council had got to level five
for its equality policy and should be praised not criticised. Council
leader Lesley Clarke said individual articles in Community Voice were
available in Urdu if people wanted them, but printing the whole thing
would not be best practice. She added: "The Race Equality Council says we
should integrate and learn the language of the country to which we all

Peter Cartwright told Cllr Raja that earlier that day the Chancellor,
Gordon Brown, had said the same thing. "He said that people who want to
live in this country should learn to speak English and be able to read it.
"One of the fastest growing communities here is from Eastern European
nations, such as Poland. "Their first language isn't English, but their
command of the language is better than many of us. "And those who can't
speak it, don't keep on whinging. They make every effort to learn it," he

8:39am Friday 9th June 2006
By Margaret Smith

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