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'UK is becoming colour coded society'

WARNING: Trevor Phillips (PA)

DEBATES ABOUT race and integration are heating up following Trevor Phillips' warning that the UK is "becoming [a] colour-coded society".

The ex-chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said Britain was "in denial" about growing levels of racial division resulting from the choices different groups make about where to live.

Phillips, who is now leading a research project at the think-tank Demos, made his comments as he launched a study into how different ethnic groups have moved around England and Wales

The study, by Demos and Birkbeck, University of London, surveyed the movements of different groups around the country between the censuses in 2001 and 2011.

It found 100,000 ethnic minority people left London for other parts of England and Wales, but tended to avoid the 80 per cent of the country that is overwhelmingly white.

Instead they mainly moved to "mixed" areas where there are already other established minority groups.

In related news, a councillor sparked a race row over the weekend by claiming that white council officers would not be able to work with their black colleagues.

Jeffrey Tucker, who represents Rainham on Havering Council, east London, slammed proposals to combine the back office services of Havering and Newham councils in east London in a bid to save cash.

Tucker, who owned Rainham Goldmine jewellery shop for 23 years, said: "I think it's a terrible idea. I can't see the two councils being able to work together. We've got 95 per cent white English workers in Havering Council and Newham Council is 95 per cent not white English."

The local councillor added: "It would be like putting two football teams together - an African team and an English team - and saying: 'Get on and work together'".

But Andrew Boff, London Assembly's Conservative group leader, said he was "dumbstruck" by the attack and branded the statement “deeply offensive.”

He said: “I can't understand why, in 2013, this councillor seems to think that an attitude that separates people because of race is OK.”

Phillips, speaking on the issue of racial division, said: "We’ve been in denial on this issue for far too long.

"This research reveals that we have yet to face up to the risk that we are drifting into a colour-coded society.

"There’s no doubt that today’s Britain is way more at ease with ethnic and cultural difference than the country in which I grew up – nobody moves out of the street because I’ve moved in.

"But ironically, the next generation’s natural desire to do the right thing for their families is leading to a new kind of social division – what you might call comfort-zone segregation."

He added: "The consequences are to set communities against each other and to build educational and economic division into our society.

"If we’re going to halt the trend we first have to acknowledge it is taking place."

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