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COUNCILS TO REJECT 'DIVISIVE' BILLBOARDS.

Byline: JOANNE DOUGLAS Local Government Reporter joanne.douglas@examiner.co.uk

COUNCIL leaders are saying "No" to controversial billboards coming to the region.

The five leaders of West Yorkshire councils - Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield, Bradford and Leeds - have written to the Home Secretary expressing "significant concerns" about a billboard campaign which says 'go home or face arrest' to illegal immigrants.

The letter, written by Clr Keith Wakefield, Leeds City Council chief, on behalf of the other council leaders, says: "We see West Yorkshire's diversity as a great strength and strive to promote strong, equal and resilient communities.

"We actively work to tackle myths and misconceptions and to challenge the 'blame culture' evident in many of our neighbourhoods.

"We believe strongly that the billboard campaign will undermine the efforts of councils and our partners to address tensions and separations between communities at a time of significant financial and social strain.

"As Leaders we feel that the language is unhelpful and misleading and will only serve to aggravate existing racial tensions.

"We are not aware of any evidence to suggest that the campaign would have more than a nominal impact on the problem you are seeking to address yet it would no doubt fuel a misguided perception about the extent of illegal immigration within our districts."

The mobile billboards have been sent to London boroughs as part of a pilot scheme aimed at immigrants without legal authority to remain in the UK.

Local government minister Eric Pickles has said there is no plan for the billboards to travel elsewhere yet.

CAPTION(S):

CONTROVERSIAL: One of the mobile Home Office billboards being used in London
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 28, 2013
Words:271
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