From Faisal Gondal
I have always wanted to buy a property in Hebden Bridge. In the day the place is beautiful, particularly in the summer months. People are friendly and helpful and appear to be non judgemental. However, ethnic people really are a minority, why ? Possibly because in the evenings Hebden Bridge takes on a Jekyll and Hyde theme.
When I have visited Hebden Bridge in the evenings I have been subjected to racial abuse, more recently myself and my friends were attacked by a bunch of youths, in total @ 15 - 20. What was even more shocking was that bystanders, adults, did nothing, not even phone the police. The pubs appear to serve drinks in glass jars as opposed to plastic. Is this a good idea? The youths were carrying glass jars. The local police were very helpful, despite having a lack of resources. Many people have posted comments on what Hebden Bridge is like. My experience of Hebden Bridge is " All that glitters is definitely not gold"
Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Faisal, I'm very sorry you had such a bad experience, and especially sorry nobody came to your help.
I'm a relative newcomer, having been posted here in 2004. We quite like it, and we've heard all the enthusiastic comments about how lovely it is to live here. Well, it can be. But let's be honest, Hebden Bridge is like any other community: good in parts. There is probably a higher proportion of non-judgmental inclusive people here than in other similar towns. We still have our idiots, like the ones you met. Folk have told me how friendly and welcoming the town is. I have met some wonderful, lovely, friendly folk. I have also met some downright rude and unneighbourly folk. But I don't think they are typical. Hebden Bridge isn't perfect. But it can be a very good place to be.
I hope you find that is your real experience of this community, and not let it be spoiled by the idiots.
From Jonathan Timbers
I am very sorry that Faisal's experienced racial harassment in Hebden Bridge. I think he raises issues which the town council and our local Calderdale councillors should reflect upon.
I too have experienced racism when I have brought non-white friends into the area.
Whilst in one pub my friend was intimidated and threatened simply because of the colour of his skin. One racist stooped as low as to call him 'the odd one out' and suggested he shined his shoes. The verbal attack was completely unprovoked.
Hebden has a predominantly welcoming, liberal and well-educated population but there is definitely a racist element amongst the younger generation and this should be addressed.
I do not think the abuse is just racial. It tends to be as quoted a number of times from the youths who hang around the streets park etc, and the abuse can be aimed at anyone they decide to scare / intimidate as I well know just from walking past the Natwest bank on a Sunday afternoon.
The guide is to keep walking but really you want to stop and tell them to get a life grow up, I dont know ? I am in my late 30s so imagine what someone around the age of 60 thinks quite frightened I would imagine, but because there is so many you just keep walking and pretend not to hear them.
i dont know what the town can do to stop this and they all have a bottle and fag so surely someone is supplying this.
Posted by Johnny Marascalco
I agree, all that glitters is not gold. Hebden Bridge does seem to suffer from some kind of covert racist tendencies, but I do not believe that teenagers should take the blame.
The town is almost exclusively white. Surprisingly, given the liberal (well-educated does not necessarily equal non-racist Adam) credentials which the town appears to claim. Ethnic minorities are very poorly represented by comparison to neighbouring towns and cities, and I think it is important to ask the question, why?
I think it is unfair to blame the teenage population of Hebden Bridge for racist behaviour. This is learnt behaviour, and not simply from peers, from parents and other significant adult influences.
The only reason that racist behaviour is obvious in that group is because they have not yet modified their behaviour due to external influences. There are a lot of racists in Hebden Bridge, just as there are anywhere else, it's just that they are wise enough not to shout about it except in the company where they know it will be accepted.
There is absolutely no excuse for racism. I am, however, concerned that amongst other wrongs in Hebden Bridge the local young people are once again being accused of its perpetration.
The local young people I know and talk with, have mixed race friends, and are far more tolerant and socially accepting than many 'leaders' in our community.
Myself, (a Hebden Bridge resident) and my invited friends have also been subject to abuse, although not racial, from a different type of tourist. Unfortunately, Hebden Bridge is increasingly becoming known as a 'soft touch' and is attracting unsavoury confrontational groups, especially during the summer months.
Personally, I go out to the pubs and cafes during the week, when there are less tourists of any kind.
Faisal, I can assure you Hebden Bridge is a very different place on a dark, damp rainy Tuesday afternoon in February!
From Faisal Gondal
Thank you all for your support, in particular Elaine Connell who has been very encouraging (by personal email). Although abuse comes in many forms, it is clear that Hebden Bridge does not have the facilities to control and police the matter. Despite my recent experience I still think its a nice place. From your emails it is evident that an issue of Anti Social behaviour exists and unless it is addressed Hebden Bridge risks losing its appeal.
If more ethnic minorities moved to Hebden Bridge I can assure you that although it would aid diversity, the younger generations would respond to abuse, particularly racial in a non productive manner even causing more issues. Ethnic Minorities in neighbouring towns such as Todmorden and Halifax do not view Hebden Bridge as a welcoming place. The political climate has caused issues, mainly within the Asian communities. A good starting point would be to seek the views of business owners who operate at night, clearly it affects them. Additionally the police and in particular the councils should have an input. I actually have white friends who want to move out of Hebden Bridge due to ASB. Hebden Bridge is lovely during the day. Why should it not be the same during the night ? (With a few exceptions)
May be the implementation of an ASB policy may be productive, however it is clear that the council has other priorities such as Tourism, giving approval to build new flats and bars. Unless a radical review is undertaken in respect to abuse, providing adequate facilities for the younger generations, the image of Hebden Bridge will be seriously tarnished, impacting on decent people like yourselves.
Thank you for your comments
From Danny Thompson
One of ways in which people can help to counter racism and other forms of discrimination and abuse is to report it to the police.
I'm glad that Faisal has done this, and that he seems to have had a satisfactory response.
For the last couple of years or so the police service has had a specific duty, everywhere in the country, to record details of such incidents. This is the case even if an incident cannot be classified as a criminal act.
West Yorkshire Police has a hate crime reporting leaflet on its website here (PDF format)
This includes a telephone number at which such incidents can be reported, either by victims or by third parties.
I'm not saying that this is the only way in which these issues can be addressed, but as a police officer (who grew up in Hebden, but who now lives and works in Dorset) I know how vital such reporting is to enable a true picture to be built up.