COMMUNITY leaders last night leapt to the defence of Oxford’s largest estate after the Government said it could be vulnerable to political extremism.

Blackbird Leys has won a £50,000 Government grant aimed at bringing traditional working class communities together.

The money was allocated after MPs pinpointed the estate as one of 100 communities nationally vulnerable to political “extremism” and “those who would divide our communities”.

Last night Oxford City Council leader Bob Price joined community leaders in blasting the assessment of the area, claiming councillors only ever applied for the grant to help boost services.

A residents’ group, youth services and community events are among services planned by the council following the donation from the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Mr Price said the money would help the area hugely.

He said: “We do not recognise in any way the claim Blackbird Leys could potentially be an area of extremism. It is irrelevant to us.

“We only applied for the money because it enables us to help launch new services in what is a traditionally working-class area.”

Community leaders also rejected claims the area could promote extremism.

Parish councillor Gordon Roper said: “I’m extremely surprised the Government would even suggest that Blackbird Leys would harbour extremism.

“I lived on the estate for more than 40 years and never saw any racist problems at all. It is a multicultural and accepting area.”

The Rev David Parry, from the Church of the Holy Family, added: “I’m sure plenty of nice things can be done with the money, but I don’t see much political extremism.

“If anything, the Leys leans more to the left and I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest the far right may get a foothold here.”

Communities Secretary John Denham said the £12m drive was to promote fairness on estates, regardless of “class, race and beliefs”.

He added: “Substantial investment has transformed communities across the country, but there are still communities who don’t seem to feel that benefit.

“They feel they work hard, pay taxes and follow the rules but others have a better deal.

“If we fail [these communities], the danger is that extremists will try to exploit dissatisfaction and insecurity in ways which will pull communities apart.”

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We hope that this work builds on the pride that many residents have in Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys and extend it across the estate.”