10:00AM, Friday 04 November 2016
A new report has warned of a growing ethnic divide in Slough and shows a dramatic drop in the town’s white population.
The study by professors Ted Cantle and Eric Kaufmann, of Birkbeck, University of London, published on Wednesday, says white populations in urban areas are feeling increasingly isolated as their population decreases.
Census data used by Cantle and Kaufmann says Slough’s white population has dropped from 58.3 per cent in 2001 to 34.5 per cent in 2011.
The study warns that politicians must urgently tackle the increasing ethnic polarisation of many of Britain’s towns and cities. It states: “Policies may be needed to encourage white British residents to remain in diverse areas; to choose, rather than avoid, diverse areas when they do relocate.”
It says figures show how rapidly the white British population had dwindled in urban pockets across England – including Slough.
Responding to the report, leader of Slough-based community cohesion group Mustaqbill Future Foundation, Nazar Lodhi, told the Express: “It doesn’t look good for community cohesion when white people are moving out.
“Some of the people do feel threatened. If they do go to the High Street they see lots of people who have recently immigrated.”
He suggests too few white people are getting involved with community cohesion-related events and talks could worsen the issue.
He added: “All of the players have to be involved.”
He also said there is a danger of not having a balance of ethnicities in schools.
“It’s bad for ethnic minority children if they don’t mix with the host community. How are they going to learn to live in harmony if they don’t meet them?”
Chairman of Slough’s IQRA Islamic Primary School and community cohesion campaigner Zafar Ali does not think the report presents a problem.
He says families from ethnic minorities will naturally move to places where people from their own cultures already live.
“You can’t force people to live in areas. People feel more secure with people from their own community. People don’t need to fear this.
“It’s only a problem when you allow these areas that are predominately non-white to decay.”
Mr Ali moved to Slough in 1983 when he became a police officer and said Slough’s attitudes towards ethnic minorities have changed a lot since then.
He added: “There’s no no-go areas, I’ve always been impressed by how the Slough community gets on with each other.”
Slough Borough Council’s leader Cllr Sohail Munawar added: “We know from our own experience how well we all get on with each other in Slough.
“This was confirmed by the research we commissioned in 2013, which said that nine out of 10 residents think people from different backgrounds live harmoniously tog ether, while six in seven said ethnic difference is respected.”
New images have been released showing how Slough High Street could look if the redevelopment of the Queensmere Shopping Centre goes ahead.