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Sumi Sastri interviews Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter

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As Londoners prepare for 2012, west London will play an important role as a corridor from Heathrow into central London. Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, Ealing and Acton urges local people to take part in making this change one that preserves the cultural diversity of the area and includes the poor and disadvantaged.

A life-long resident in west London, Andy Slaughter not only studied at Peterborough Primary School in Fulham and Hammersmith’s Latymer Upper School, he continues to be a resident of Shepherd’s Bush holding surgeries in community centres and in his constituency office in the Borough where his family has lived for over four generations.

Talking to HammersmithToday the MP raised his key concerns on changes in the Conservative-controlled H&F Council – changes that he believes will disenfranchise the poor and change the face of Hammersmith and the intrinsic cultural diversity that makes its markets, streets and shops a fascinating study of what is good and best in British society.

The key issues that he believes that local people should pay attention to and use their democratic right to consult with local government are:-

  • -      the sale of community centres such as the Irish Centre and other public buildings such as the libraries across the Borough
  • -      the funding cuts to primary services such as schools and health services which will result in less productive local workforce
  • -      redevelopment plans, such as the Goldhawk Industrial Estate which will replace affordable housing with luxury private apartments and the West Kensington development where affordable council homes will be replaced by shopping malls and commercial centres causing congestion and pushing the poor out of west London
  • -      the privatisation of local government and the long-term withdrawal of state support to the poor and disadvantaged

" What makes London unique is the rich tapestry of people – rich and poor and of different faiths and cultures – who bring new ideas and ways to the capital, " Slaughter said.

" If we use national debt and the recession as an excuse to cut off primary care and support for the poor, we will make the divide between the rich and poor deeper and wider with long-lasting damage to the fabric of society."

As these changes are proposed by government – the rebuilding of the King’s Street Town Hall, plans to demolish the Goldhawk Road Estate, plans to change the way libraries and community centres in the Borough operate, Slaughter says local residents should take an active role in responding to local government initiatives giving their responses due consideration and thought.

" It is not about self interest, but enlightened self interest," he says." When local government invites local residents to respond to plans, often local residents are poorly informed by government."

The real worry Slaughter says is that consultations are often phoney and urges local people to read the fine print and analyse biased statements such as - do you agree we should close this expensive and underused building  - which tells the reader what to think rather than open-ended questions which aim to find out the real views and values of the local community.

Being vigilant to these consultations which are pushed through in the summer months, Christmas and other long-holiday breaks and holding local government to account is vital if the community wishes to make its needs heard.

Developing a healthy sense of a local community and responding to public enquiries is an important part of the democratic process, and Slaughter urged constituents to think through issues of local government and respond to them and represent themselves more vocally.

" What we need to be aware of is often the poor are battling against real problems," he said, adding: " As working families struggle with real problems, they tend not to mobilize and express themselves so the poor will be moved further and further out of the centre of London.

" It can become a vicious circle where the poor who are struggling do not express themselves and because they do not express themselves they are left behind."

Moe information on Andy Slaughter's local campaigns can be found on his website

August 4, 2010

The views expressed in this interview are those of Andy Slaughter MP, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hammersmith Today or Neighbour Net Ltd.