Birmingham has to build bridges between its different communities if it is to avoid a repeat of last year's disturbances in Lozells, according to the academic who wrote two influential reports into the Oldham riots.
Prof Ted Cantle said only when different ethnic groups understood each other could they dismiss rumours which might trigger violent disorder.
The Lozells riots were sparked by claims that a local West Indian girl was gangraped by Asian men - a rumour that was never substantiated.
Local authorities had been guilty of not setting up these " structures of dialogue" between communities in the past, Prof Cantle said.
Although councils have begun to spearhead projects more in recent years, he said more needed to be done to change opinions inside entrenched communities. It was no good giving children the opportunity to meet other youngsters from different cultures at school, if they simply returned home to a family which promoted racism and mistrust, Prof Cantle said.
The Midland-based academic said there were many parallels between the disturbances in Lozells last October and those in Oldham in the summer of 2001.
Both disturbances were caused by rumours that were allowed to become widely circulated before they led to violence.
He said: "Sometimes it is difficult for communities to determine whether perception is reality. That is why we have to break down the barriers and allow people to communicate with each other.
"We were amazed to find in Oldham that most of the faith leaders had never met with each other.
"There were rumours in Lozells but there was no means for one member of the community to say 'How can we find out if this happened'.
"Unless there is a basic structure for dialogue, there is always going to be rumour and misinformation that is seized upon by right wing groups."
Prof Cantle said every local authority had had a statutory duty to promote good community relations since 1968.
"But, in general, local authorities have not really seen it as their role interfering in race relations," he added.
"They have always believed that they were there to deliver services and empty the dustbins. They have been very shy in interfering in community relations.
"But they have recently been given a role by the Government of 'community leadership'.
"They cannot do it by themselves but I do think they have to do the overall strategy."
Prof Cantle's recent report into disorder in Oldham provoked massive debate as it revealed that divisions between communities in the Greater Manchester town were still "entrenched" five years after the disorder.
The academic, who led the original Home Office investigation into the disturbances, believes it will take at least a generation to address this problem.
He said: "We have spoken to a lot of young people who go to mixed schools and have friends from different backgrounds, but when they go home and are within their own comfort zones, their families are not very happy with them mixing with people from other ethnicities or going out with a boy or girl from a different community."
He said people within entrenched communities would not be able to change unless children's experiences in schools were reinforced when they got home.
Prof Cantle said efforts to integrate communities more fully would have to confront these "traditional forms of racism".
He added: "In many towns and cities, there are huge suspicions between the different ethnic groups which are nakedly racist and we have to confront that.
"Riots can happen anywhere there is not the basic understanding, or contact between different cultures.
"If a rumour comes along and it can be checked by the different communities, then that will put an end to it." "When we talk about communities it is not just black or white.
"There are hundreds of languages in Birmingham, so there are many different ethnic groups.
"The issues are not dissimilar with disturbances. "You have one community believing another community is doing better than they are, or not getting their share of economic help," he added.
Professor Cantle, is head of the Institute of Community Cohesion of the universities of Coventry, Warwick, Leicester and De Montfort.