WYCOMBE'S ethnic minority communities were told in no uncertain terms this week that they should learn to speak and read English.

The subject came up at Wycombe District Council's cabinet meeting on Monday during discussion of a report on the council's equality policy.

The policy is there to ensure that people are fairly treated, regardless of their race, sex, or disability.

The council was rated level five last year for its policy, which was as high as any other council in the country and at least two places higher than other councils in Buckinghamshire.

But Labour councillor Rafiq Raja wanted to how many of the council's senior staff came from the ethnic minority community and whether they reflected the ethnic make up of the district.

He then asked whether the council's newspaper, Community Voice, which goes to all homes in the district, should be available in different languages. When something had gone out in Urdu, people really liked it, he said.

Wendy Mallen said she hoped the council would appoint on merit, not proportionality and Audrey Jones said the council had got to level five for its equality policy and should be praised not criticised.

Council leader Lesley Clarke said individual articles in Community Voice were available in Urdu if people wanted them, but printing the whole thing would not be best practice.

She added: "The Race Equality Council says we should integrate and learn the language of the country to which we all belong."

Peter Cartwright told Cllr Raja that earlier that day the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, had said the same thing.

"He said that people who want to live in this country should learn to speak English and be able to read it.

"One of the fastest growing communities here is from Eastern European nations, such as Poland.

"Their first language isn't English, but their command of the language is better than many of us.

"And those who can't speak it, don't keep on whinging. They make every effort to learn it," he said.