ANTI-RACISM campaigners in Salisbury have been granted £2,600 towards the cost of organising a multi-cultural community event in the summer.

Salisbury Area Board agreed to the grant, but only after a debate on the merits of such events.

The event will take place at Salisbury Guildhall and is to be organised by Salisbury Coalition Against Racism. The group’s chairman, Rex Webb, told area board members: “It’s about trying to encourage that real mix in the city and get more diversity into public life.”

He said it would be an open event with plenty of food as well as cultural activities. Workshops before the event would encourage as many minority groups to take part as possible so that they felt a sense of ownership, he explained. The overall cost of the project would be £6,000.

But Cllr Mary Douglas said she had concerns about the proposal and its multi-culturalism. She said: “We are all minority groups to some extent. The greater value is achieved by stressing what we have in common. That leads to greater community cohesion, rather than emphasising what is different.”

Matthew Dean, a city councillor, said racism was evil but multi-culturalism had had its day and it was time to promote togetherness in terms of national identity. He was also unhappy with the proportion of the project’s funds - £2,600 - being sought from the area board.

However, board members approved the grant, with Cllr Douglas abstaining. Cllr Ian Tomes said: “I went to the last event and there was a very welcoming atmosphere and the food was absolutely outstanding.”