'Dangerous and misleading' claim Yarmouth at risk of far right surge

The centre of Great Yarmouth resembled a ghost town on the hottest day of the year as its market pla

Great Yarmouth could be at risk from a far right surge unless preventative measures are taken according to research from Hope Not Hate. - Credit: Archant

A report suggesting Great Yarmouth is among 52 areas "at risk" from far-right extremism has been tagged "dangerous and misleading."

Anti-racist group Hope not Hate says it has identified the areas in England and Wales most at risk of becoming hotbeds for right-wing extremism as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout - and that preventative action is needed.

Its report, Building Back Resilience, names Yarmouth among 52 out of 335 local authority areas looked at where Covid and "real economic difficulty'" had created a "perfect storm" putting it at risk of "division and rising hate."

The 52 areas are said to have "less liberal" attitudes towards migration and multiculturalism.

It comes as Home Office figures reveal racially or religiously aggravated incidents in Yarmouth have almost doubled over the last five years from 52 in 2015/2016 to 101 in 2020/2021.

The report states: "This does not mean they will automatically be susceptible to far right overtures, or even that they are the most vulnerable in the country to cohesion issues.

"But it does mean that these are the areas where Covid-19 has heightened existing risks."

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Councillor Carl Smith, deputy leader of Great Yarmouth Borogh Council. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said the Hope Not Hate report was 'dangerous and misleading.' - Credit: Archant

Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council,  described its conclusions, reached using the results of a 1,512 person poll, available data, and conversations with councillors from 14 authorities, as "unbelievable".

He said the report's authors needed to see for themselves all the work and investment that was going on across the borough to tackle deprivation and build cohesive communities.

"It is dangerous and misleading," he said. "I do not recognise the picture being painted in that report."

Nevv Moore, of Harbour Radio in the town, said he and his team of DJs encountered prejudice "every single day" with "foreigners" facing discrimination and ignorant opinions.

"But it is prejudice out of envy not of hate," he added.

A spokesman for Hope not Hate said: "The findings are not a comment on the work already going on locally. Fantastic things are being done by authorities and voluntary groups across many of the 52 places.

"The point is that more central government support is needed for this in the coming years, especially in these areas.

"It is not saying that the far right are mobilising in every one of these areas."