White British people will be the minority in Nottingham in 10 to 15 years, a senior councilor has said.
In some areas – St Ann’s, Leen Valley and Berridge – the majority of people were non-white British several years ago.
In the 2001 census, the percentage of people who identify themselves as something other than white British was 19 percent. In 2011 it was 35 percent.
Currently, Nottingham City Council estimates around 42 percent of people in the city are non-white British.
Senior councilor Toby Neal said there has been a sizeable change in recent years, but said Nottingham is one of the most tolerant and inclusive places in the country.
He said white-British people becoming the minority was a matter of when and not if, and that it would likely happen in the next 10 to 15 years.
Promoting a group called Nottingham Together – a council-funded organization which aims to improve cohesion – Councilor Neal said while there were still problem areas, the overall picture was improving.
The councillor, who represents the Berridge ward for Labour, said Nottingham is unusual for having a very diverse mix of different ethnic groups, such as the large black British communities in Arboretum and Aspley, older white Polish communities around Berridge, Radford and Park, and concentrations of Pakistani people in the Dales and Leen Valley.
In similar cities with a high percentage of BME people, such as Leicester, it is largely made up of one or two ethnicities.
But in Nottingham, this spread is much wider, with many larger ethnic groups and an increasing number of mixed race people.
The high percentage of BME people in Nottingham is also distorted by the tightly-drawn city boundaries.
Across the river in Rushcliffe the number of BMEs is 9.7 percent, and in Gedling it is around 7 percent.
Councilor Neal said: “I was born and brought up in the South East of London and when I first moved here it was about as close to metropolitan as where I grew up.
“That’s why I like it here. I think it’s about as tolerant a place as it gets, it does have its problems, but the assumption from everybody is always to get on with people, and not to create conflict, so communities generally integrate very well.
“I think a part of that is that we have a long history of minority groups here. Like the Polish community, they’ve been here a long time, since the Second World War, they’re a very well established community.
“They have a pride in presenting their own culture, but they’re also comfortable in mixing with other people. They’re outward looking. It’s true of the other groups as well.
“If you look at a school like Forest Fields Primary School, there are 52 languages spoken there. It’s incredibly diverse.”
Chris Lawton is a senior lecturer at the Nottingham Business School, and said the number of non-White British people was likely to be slightly lower than the council’s estimate of 42 percent. He believes it will be in the high 30s, around 38 percent.
He said: “The number of BME people is increasing very slowly based on the data I’ve seen, around two percent a year. For it to happen within 10 years you would need that to be go up much quicker.
“We’ve just had the lowest rate of immigration since the recession, and unless something very significant happens in terms of how the UK is positioning itself I can’t see the rate increasing. The UK’s current policy is to reduce immigration levels.”
But he said Nottingham remains a deeply multicultural city, with a proud and diverse history.
“Nottingham was one of the original destinations for the Windrush generation. It’s the place of the first black business, unfortunately the first race riot, and the first Caribbean carnival, so it’s got a really important multi-cultural legacy. It’s a very cosmopolitan place.
One organization which works to break down cultural barriers is Nottingham Together. It provides small grants to community events.
Eleanor Usherwood works with the group, and said: “The whole aim is to bring the community together, so people apply to us and tell us how they are going to do that, it could be anything from a community get together to a football match.
“It’s difficult to measure the success, but the feedback we get is really important – we get a huge amount of really positive feedback. Nottingham is a very tolerant place. We look after our own.”
Imran Khan, 40, is a volunteer at the Sultania mosque, and said community cohesion is improving.
He said: “I think we are going in the right direction, I’ve just come from the mosque now, we had a school visit, and the children and the teachers were really excited and really interested, and they left with a good positive image and a lot more than they know.
“My parents moved here from Halifax when I was two, and all praise to God, I haven’t had any hate crime. I used to be a taxi driver and you get the odd one, people call you names here or there, but to me that’s going to happen in any part of the world.
“Generally speaking 99.9 percent of the public are really good, and I’ve never felt not at home.”