Saturday, 9 February 2008

Paddick in Twickenham

By some estimates, there are more than 250,000 Poles and other people from the EU accession countries living in London at the moment. All of them could be entitled to vote in May's elections to the GLA. Of course, most of them won't be registered to vote because either they have not yet taken the decision to stay in the UK and so they have no interest in the elections or they haven't got a clue that they are entitled to vote.

But it is undoubtedly a huge constituency of people who could have an enormous impact if enthused to vote (not that all are likely to vote for a single candidate, of course). Particularly as only around a third of those registered will bother to vote at all.

London has a history of large scale immigration. When I was a governor of a primary school in SE London, we had more than 30 different first languages represented. Most of the children in our part of London came from West Africa but there were increasing numbers of Eastern Europeans as well.

Yesterday, Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate Brian Paddick was out and around Twickenham. One of the stops he made was to a Polish deli that has been going for just over a year. They survive thanks to a large(ish) local Polish expat community and locals who have found the service and range of products to their liking. What helps is that wholesalers have started carrying lines of Polish products.

Brian also met up with local MP Vince Cable and the Deputy Leader of the local Council Stephen Knight for a visit to Twickenham Police Station. Brian used to come to Twickenham when he was the Police Officer in charge of organising policing for rugby matches. Of course, Twickenham is one of the parts of London with lower crime rates but the issue is still of concern to many local residents. One of the groups most often blamed are young people. Many older residents see groups of young people as a threat, even when they are doing nothing criminal or anti-social. Brian visited the excellent Heatham House youth centre in the middle of Twickenham which is part of Richamnd Council's response to this perceived problem. As well as touring the facilities, Brian was able to chat with the young people present about how they viewed the way they were treated by the Police, by the Council and by older residents.


jonthanfryer said...

In the run-up to the June 2009 Euro-elections, we are keen to get as many London-based EU citizens voting (or registered, if they are not already on the electoral roll). For the GLA campaign, we'll be targeting London West Central (Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster) for a sort of dry-run, but that shouldn't stop other local patries rallying the EU citizen vote for Liberal Democracy! Some literature will be translated into languages such as Polish and Lithuanian.

Manfarang said...

Given that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world I don't expect a lot of them to stay there for long.