THE Muslim community in South Tyneside is outraged by racist by-election pamphlets being sent though letter boxes.
The British National Party (BNP) has posted a number of flyers to encourage constituents to vote for their candidate Dorothy Brooke in next week’s by-election in South Shields.
However, many have been left upset and hurt by the negative statements targeting the Ocean Road area, which is where a large part of the town’s black and ethnic minority (BME) community work and live.
The leaflet reads: “Drive down Ocean Road and see for yourself. Tory government let them in, Labour council gave them our houses.”
Business owners on the road, which is famous for its curry houses and restaurants, are outraged.
Rana Rahman, who’s run the Indian Brasserie for more than 30 years, said: “It’s disgusting. It’s racist. It’s horrible and it’s not necessary.
“We are all proud to be part of the South Shields community.
“Many of us have lived here for decades. We are British citizens who contribute to the economy. I employ 10 people. The town is our home.
“Ocean Road brings a lot of business and tourism to the town and nobody should be allowed to post leaflets like this.
“I have never lived in a council house, I have always been self-employed. These claims are just ridiculous.”
Lalon Amin, who owns Thai Central and lives at the Lawe Top, believes the BNP is trying to take away the town’s history.
Mr Amin said: “The history of Ocean Road is built on hard work and sweat. It’s a part of the town’s past. Since the first curry house – Anglo Asia, which opened in 1958 – the street has grown into what it is today though dedication and hard work. This leaflet makes a mockery of that.
“Bangladeshis are proud people. Everyone I know works. Within our own community it’s frowned upon if someone who is able to work doesn’t have a job.
“Reading this is very hurtful.”
The leaflet has also angered members of Apnar Ghar – a centre for ethnic women which was opened in 1989.
It claimed: “South Shields’ Labour council gave £16,000 to the Apnar Ghar Centre because they don’t like using the job centre.”
However, its users say, not only has the BNP printed an inaccurate figure – the correct being £10,582 – the statement is untrue.
Parveen Begum, centre co-ordinator, said: “The centre saves the taxpayer a lot of money by offering courses and training, in areas such as English, computers and childcare. When trained, these ladies then serve the community and some will go into higher education, which again benefits the town.
“At the same time we create employment for tutors and crèche workers who are from non-ethnic backgrounds, so we promote integration.”
Parveen added: “We work in partnership with South Tyneside District Hospital, South Tyneside Clinical Commission Group, schools, Job Centre Plus, other women’s organisations and third sector organisations.
“By working with these groups, we make their workload lighter.”