A community day held to unite residents around Moston Lane has been branded a "propaganda event" by the British National Party after its representatives were asked to leave by Moston councillor Paul Murphy.
The criticisms follow a scathing attack by the BNP in which they posted an article on their website describing the council's recent 'rumour desk' initiative – aimed at tackling unfounded gossip on the Lane – as a "desperate attempt to persuade local residents that multi-culturalism is wonderfully beneficial."
Council chiefs estimate around 400 people turned up to the bash on Saturday at Simpson Memorial Hall, which was held to bring locals together for a day of entertainment and announce future plans for the area.
But BNP representative Derek Adams criticised the event as an exercise in 'propaganda.'
"We thought it would be a public meeting that local people were encouraged to go down to and have a say at, but it was just a propaganda event for the council," he said.
"If you weren't in 100 per cent agreement with the council, you weren't welcome, and we were asked to leave.
"We were leafleting in the area early that day and people told us their concerns. Local people do not recognise Moston as their own any more."
In response, Moston councillor Paul Murphy, said: "It wasn't a public meeting, the event was for Moston, Harpurhey and Charlestown residents who have contributed to the community.
"I asked the BNP to leave because they were not from any of the three areas and they were filming the event. There were children attending, and they hadn't been given clearance to film them."
Despite the furore, the response from some of the locals in attendance suggests that the event was a success.
Stephen Holt, chairman of the Trinity and District Residents' Association, said: "I think the event served its purpose of uniting the community – it was very well attended by people from across the community.
"If many of the people who have arrived on Moston Lane were to leave, then half the shops that are open now would be boarded up.
"As long as newcomers abide by the laws, we will welcome them."
Stephen Chandler, who runs Chandler's Hairdressing on Moston Lane, said: "The event was enjoyable and a good move to get people together - if people don't know each other then there's bound to be distrust.
"I think the diversity is a good thing. There's a lot of different cultures on the lane and you can shop 'til late at night.
"There's a little bit of racism round here, but most people are community spirited and quite happy to mingle with the newcomers. There's just a few loudmouthed bigots."
Harpurhey councillor Paul Fairweather chose the occasion to announce the first 'Moston Day' next summer, aimed at celebrating the area and its residents.
"We want local people to look at June, July and August next year and see if there is a significant date in Moston's history that we could base our celebration on," he said.
Residents can contact Andrew Jones in the Regeneration Team on 655 7875 or email him at a.jones8@manchester. gov.uk with their choice of date for Moston Day.
East Manchester Advertiser