THE chief executive of a BME-led housing association has urged politicians in Westminster to find some compromise on Brexit before it tears local communities apart.
In a New Year message, Ali Akbor – chief executive of Leeds-based Unity Homes & Enterprise – warned that fears over a no-deal Brexit, or a second referendum, were causing deep anxiety among tenants.
Politicians, he says, must “grasp the Brexit nettle” as the deadline for the UK’s departure from the EU looms ever-larger.
“Unity is not a political organisation and has no desire to become one,” Akbor said. “But our staff are close to the people we serve and it is clear that the decisions politicians make in the coming weeks will impact on tenants’ lives for years to come.
“I am particularly concerned about the aggressive tone and negative rhetoric we have heard from both sides of the Brexit debate, and the dangers this poses to community cohesion. That is why I am wary of the damage a second referendum campaign may inflict.
“Our tenants wish to live in a society at ease with itself, and side by side with people respectful of each other’s differences. This is not helped by politicians who advocate a ‘my way or no way’ doctrine and who seek to denigrate those who hold a different viewpoint to their own.”
Akbor, who has been Unity’s chief for some 20 years and also serves as the secretary and treasurer of BME National – a collective of over 60 BME housing associations – said a Brexit compromise in Westminster is “essential” not just for the good of the UK’s future relationship with the EU, but for the governance of the country.
“The wheels of government have ground to a halt,” Akbor added. “That’s not a criticism, it’s a fact. The Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper and the Social Housing Green Paper are gathering dust in Whitehall. We need to be moving on to the next stage on both.”