Claims of racial abuse on buses

A MEETING is due to take place this week following allegations of racial tension on a bus taking workers to BT at Martlesham.

A MEETING is due to take place this week following allegations of racial tension on a bus taking workers to BT at Martlesham.

Suffolk County Council is due to meet with community leaders and transport bosses to try to resolve the issues on the Route 66 bus which is often crowded with BT workers, many of them Asian.

The allegations have prompted Kesgrave town councillor Luke Payne to claim the town has become a hot bed of racism.

Mr Payne said: “I'm appalled by what I'm hearing and seeing and I think people should be aware of it.

“I think it's a conspiracy to uproot the ethnic community.”

He also claimed he knew of Asian residents in Kesgrave being racially abused as a result of the overcrowding.

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The problem of overcrowding was brought up at a meeting of Kesgrave, Martlesham and Rushmere St Andrew parish councils, where it was revealed a number of foreign BT workers had been subjected to racial abuse.

The minutes of the meeting, held on June 26, suggest that the workers are reluctant to contact the police because of their culture.

Nikki Goodchild, town councillor for Kesgrave east, said she had lived in Kesgrave for more than 11 years and knew there were issues with Asian workers on that route because of overcrowding.

But she added: “But at the end of the day they've got as much right to use the bus service as anyone else.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said it was working with councillors, police, BT and First Buses to resolve the issues.

They said: “There was a complaint last summer of racial harassment of members of the BT staff by others on the buses, the identities of whom we don't know.”

Bus company First Buses, said: “We have had no complaints directly either local or at regional level.

“However, we have been asked by Suffolk County Council if we could attend a meeting next week which we understand is to look at calming any racial tensions. These appear to be related to members of the public who may use our buses.” He said no staff were involved.

A spokesman for BT said it worked to ensure employees got a full induction to welcome them to the area.

They said: “We also work closely with our local community, the local authorities and the police.”

N Have you been a victim of racism in Kesgrave? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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