Southall is one of the jewels in the crown of British Asian culture. A town with immense political history and rich cultural pride. One of the two major centres of bhangra music, and of dance. A destination for local and international visitors for retail, weddings and celebrations, and the home of Indian cuisine in our restaurants and factories.
It is a place with so much to offer but has been ravaged by successive, devastating challenges over the past few decades.
At the confluence of the Grand Union Canal and the Great Western Railway, Southall’s history is one of industry hand hard graft. Major manufacturers, factories and workshops defined the nature of its local economy, and provided jobs to generations of local families and of migrants seeking out a better life.
Since the 1980’s many of those industries have been in decline and some have gone away altogether. Coupled with the toxic mix of over decade of austerity government imposed austerity, the devastating consequences of Brexit and the pandemic on both the health of people, families and the economy, too much has changed for the worse, and we need to now focus on changing things for the better.
Southall was disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the collapse of the aviation sector and the knock-on impact on Heathrow’s supply chains. As a result, residents in Southall had the highest rate of furlough in the country.
And now the cost-of-living crisis is now hitting the community hard and is exacerbating deep-rooted inequalities. 41.4% of children in Southall are living in poverty, a number significantly higher than the UK average. 52% of jobs in Southall are classed as low-pay work, meaning that Southall residents currently take home the lowest wages in Ealing.
Perversely, this decrease in living standards has taken place against a backdrop of investment in Southall. Southall had been designated as an opportunity area in the London Plan in 2011. Using the decision by the Conservative Mayor and Conservative Council to give the go ahead to the regeneration of the old gas works site in 2009, Southall was earmarked for substantial and radical regeneration.
With an aspiration for both jobs and homes in the plan that would become the Area Opportunity Framework, much of the last decade has seen huge residential investment in new homes, investment in opportunities for good, well-paid jobs hasn’t kept pace.
We at Ealing Labour want to build a new economy and a new relationship with residents, and this starts in pressing the reset button on change and developing in Southall.
You have been clear with us about what needs to change. Issues surrounding fly-tipping, heavy congestion, the state of public space and the availability employment space. Not only that, we know that communities are concerned about the consequences of investment into Southall and what this means for the future of the town.
A reset means that we will support, encourage, and enable a community-led approach to future development and investment in Southall.
In the coming months, we’ll be starting up a community forum which will give residents and businesses and opportunity to shape the future of the area.
It means that local people will have the opportunity to be in the driving seat of change, and that communities whose voices aren’t heard enough will be able to have their say.
And it means that we build on Southall’s vibrant, resilient and industrious local economy to ensure that it works for everyone – creating good, well-paid jobs on a decent living income.
We’re proud of the progress that we’re already making.
We’re working with and building on the incredible work of Let’s Go Southall – a ground-breaking project that works to get the local community moving.
We’re making progress on active travel projects, reducing polluting vehicles and encouraging more residents to increase cycling, walking, running, and scooting.
And we’re working hard to deliver good jobs and helping businesses in Southall thrive – we recently held our first business expo in Southall, and this week we signed the lease to create a business hub at the Southall Manor House.
Southall’s future is not as a dormitory town.
It is a place where businesses can flourish, where residents can access genuinely affordable homes on decent living incomes, where the community can come together in beautiful and inclusive public spaces and where culture can continue to be fostered.
The Labour administration is committed to delivering this for Southall and pushing the button on the reset programme is just the start.