A CONTROVERSIAL programme claiming segregation is getting worse in Blackburn has been described as a ‘slap in the face’.

Thousands of people tuned in to watch the BBC Panorama programme on Monday, which said the town had become geographically segregated with white families typically living in Mill Hill and Asian families typically living in Whalley Range.

Abdul Hamid Quershi, CEO of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “The show looked like it was made about 20 years ago.

“There was nothing current and nothing showing what is taking place in Blackburn now.

“Mosques have held several open days to try and bring people in and to get people mixing, but there was no mention of this or any of the good work which is going on to help people come together.”

Faz Patel, an East Lancashire community relations adviser, said: “This programme was a slap in the face for Blackburn. It’s tarnished the image of the town and it will reflect badly on us for years to come. I was so angry at this programme and I have spoken to a lot of people who think the same way.”

Panorama had originally visited in 2007 and reported a divide between Muslim Asian and white residents.

In response to Monday night’s programme, Hannah Allen, CEO of Blackburn YouthZone, said: “Blackburn Youth Zone is a testament to the work being done by groups across Blackburn and Darwen to create a more cohesive Britain.

“There is always more that can be done to create cohesion within communities, the same goes around the globe and we accept that; but we would also encourage anyone who is passionate about Blackburn and Darwen to find out more about the work we do. When we work together we improve our community.”

BBC Panorama White Fright: 'Blackburn IS more divided'

Cllr Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “As expected this programme gave a very simplistic view.

“I’ve received many messages from people expressing their disappointment about how our town was portrayed.

“We never shy away from difficult issues and we have a lot to be proud of.”