|In Defence of Acton|
Local MP Angie Bray says Telegraph article is not true reflection of W3
Yesterday’s Telegraph carried a piece on Acton which I think it’s fair to say has created a bit of a storm locally.
Reading Jane Kelly’s article ‘I feel like a stranger where I live’ was disappointing because the picture she painted of Acton was so depressing. When I think of Acton, I don’t think of a town where no-one talks to each other, or indeed where different minority communities struggle to live alongside the wider community – talk of ‘white flight’ is not something I’ve experienced when meeting people on Acton doorsteps.
Of course some of the issues raised in her article are genuine issues that we face up and down the country - and doubtless too on some scale at least across Ealing and Acton. For example, we do need to work hard to ensure our different communities don’t isolate themselves. But we shouldn’t discount the positives that come with Acton’s remarkable diversity. In fact, I’d argue that its very diversity is what gives Acton its distinctive character and identity. Fair enough, Acton might not resemble what London looked like back in the 1950s, but it’s certainly reflective of the way London is moving now.
We should celebrate that and all the great work local people are doing in Acton. It’s no surprise to me that Churchfield Road is now once again looking the focal point for a young, family-friendly community. Walking around, you can very clearly see that young people are coming to Acton to base their families, attracted by Acton’s great schools and transport links and I’m convinced they’re also attracted by Acton’s potential.
You need only look at the uproar recently over the disastrous plans submitted to ‘improve’ The Oaks Shopping Centre to see the pride people feel in their local community and their vision for what they want Acton to be. I met local architect, David Buckingham, through Acton Community Forum (one of Acton’s highly successful community operations) who talked me through his idea to make The Oaks a link between Churchfield Road and the high street. It makes great sense and I hope his plans can form the basis of a much more ambitious application.
Only this week we heard that the Prime Minister has recognised Action Acton for all the superb work it does offering employment and training opportunities, but also for the fantastic Acton Market, which he praised for becoming a vital community hub.
Then we have all the different groups on the South Acton Estate who put in work to provide advice and assistance to immigrants who might ordinarily struggle to integrate properly into our community. One group that really stands out and who I’ve worked with are the Tallo Centre who work specifically with the Somali community. They offer all sorts of advice, including language skills, and provide an invaluable service.
To finish up on the Telegraph article, though, I do think it’s worth mentioning the positive experience I’ve had every time I’ve been to Acton’s Mosque - I’ve always had a friendly welcome there and am always struck by the interest members of the congregation there show in all matters relating to the wider community. Just round the corner, Acton Community Forum has opened up a new gallery, which apart from displaying pictures, offers a platform for local community debates. They are lively and well attended. That says it all about a happy community.
Ealing Central and Acton MP
30th January 2013