Minister hints at security funding cut

Jewish community is a template for other minorities, says Stunell

By Leon Symons, September 21, 2010
Andrew Stunell

Andrew Stunell

Funding for new security measures in community schools may be cut under the government's wide-ranging review to reduce the national debt.

Cohesion minister Andrew Stunell hinted at the possibility after touring the headquarters of the Community Security Trust in north London.

Mr Stunell, Liberal Democrat MP for the Hazel Grove constituency in Stockport, said: "That issue is one I am aware of. However, we have a major financial review of everything coming up so I cannot comment specifically on that."

The CST declined to comment.

The question of how school security was funded arose from the ground-breaking report by the Parliamentary All-Party Group on Antisemitism in 2006, which expressed surprise that it was paid for by the community.

Coalition can build Big Society on this model

In its response to the report in 2008, the then Labour government agreed that schools and authorities could use their devolved capital funding for investment in security at schools where this was a priority.

Mr Stunell said he wanted to visit the CST because "I have been impressed with the way the Jewish community has developed its own way of achieving resilience and the CST is at the heart of that. It's only right to want to see something that is a centre of excellence."

However, he said while it was "absolutely the case that we ought to have our many diverse communities working harmoniously together, the sad truth is that we have some way go to before we achieve that.

"For the huge majority of the time, the Jewish community lives peacefully and, I hope, prosperously in the UK as do other minority groups. But we have to acknowledge that for centuries, rather than decades, the community has been seen by some as a group of outsiders. We need to do all we can to make sure that the society we create and build is one in which every community can feel comfortable."

Mr Stunell said he viewed Anglo-Jewry as a model on which the coalition government could build its vision of a "Big Society". He said the Jewish community had achieved great things in the last 150 years. Ethnic communities which had established themselves more recently could, he said, learn lessons that could help them "fast-track" towards similar achievements in a much shorter time by using the Jewish model.

"In that respect, the Jewish community has been a pioneer," said the minister.

He said ethnic communities would be encouraged to communicate better and improve their relationships.

Last updated: 9:54am, September 22 2010