Tower Hamlets last in over-50s community poll

Proposed Hijab Gates,Brick Lane

Tower Hamlets has the highest levels of dissatisfaction amongst over-50s in England, according to research by public sector analysts Experian.

The research commissioned by the BBC, found that when asked the question ‘Do neighbours look out for each other?’ over-50s in Tower Hamlets responded most negatively, with 29.2 per cent of residents saying there was no community cohesion in the borough.

Although London areas had the nine lowest concentrations of over-50s in England, the capital’s boroughs were the worst for satisfaction with community cohesion within that age group.

Lewisham and Hackney were also ranked in the bottom ten, along with Hammersmith and Fulham, Camden, Haringey, Lambeth, Islington, Newham and Southwark.

The report comes at a bad time for Tower Hamlets council, as a five-year project to improve community cohesion comes to an end. The proposals aimed: “to improve the quality of life for everybody living and working in Tower Hamlets.”

At the time of the proposals Tower Hamlets Council said that three quarters of residents responding to their Annual Residents’ Survey felt the borough was a place where people from different backgrounds and walks of life could live together harmoniously.

Recent events could provide some explanation for the disparity between the the figures provided by the two surveys. The borough is currently undergoing a period of upheaval after Lutfur Rahman became Tower Hamlets inaugural Mayor two weeks ago following a turbulent election campaign. One of Rahman’s election pledges was to: “Work to bring together our diverse communities.”

This came after an unpopular council proposal, earlier this year, for  a plan to erect large metal arches, dubbed ‘Hijab Gates’, on Brick Lane which sparked 158 objections and not a single letter of support. The plan was dropped.

Gordon Deuchars, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Age Concern London says: “Living in a fast moving and anonymous city can be tough on all of us but it can be especially alienating for London’s 890,000 older people.

“Maintaining a sense of community is extremely important and we are really concerned that local spending cuts may mean community centres and local groups, which are a real life-line for older Londoners, could be forced to close.

“Many older Londoners have lived in this city their whole lives and have no wish to move elsewhere. It is absolutely vital that their city does not forget about them and the resources they need to stay active and involved are protected.”

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