The Unorthodox Website Blog

Segregated Battersea

11 Jul

It never used to be like this, but now the area where I live is getting like the Deep South of the USA in the 1950s, or apartheid South Africa.

You can draw a line along York Road and to the north of that along the River Thames are the very affluent white areas, with affluent white Chelsea across on the other bank of the River. Walk along the riverside walk on either side of the River and you’ll hardly see a black/ethnic face. Luxury millionaires apartments, the Heliport for rich executives, and little Fred Wells Gardens where you see relatively few black/ethnic faces.

Cross York Road and it’s another world. Vast council estates where the Tory council has concentrated most of the Labour voters, selling off a lot of other council estates to those most likely to vote Tory. Council housing is now reserved for the poorest with many single mothers and low-income families.

I live on one of these council estates, the Kambala, which had quite a different character 26 years ago when I moved in, after my council tower block Jay Court (named after Douglas Jay, the local Labour MP for years) was sold off to yuppies and renamed Park South. At that time Kambala Estate, one of the last to be built by the old Labour council, was a place people wanted to live.

Now Kambala and the adjoining York Road and Winstanley Estates are a sort of working-class oasis. To the north are the luxury riverside apartments, to the southeast is the Falcons, a former council estate long since walled off to form an exclusive private one. Two blocks have recently been demolished to make way for yuppy student studio apartments.

Near me is York Gardens with the library/community center. The Gardens are over 90% ethnic with few white faces, next to them is Pennethorne Square – again over 90% black with all the shops catering mainly for the Afro-Caribbean community (mainly Jamaican), and the Baptist Church which is also almost exclusively black. Across the road is Falconbrook School, like all other state schools in the area, over 90% black/Asian.

White kids in the area mostly go to private schools I presume, such as the girls school in Battersea High Street (over 90% white – north of York Road of course, near the affluent Battersea Village).

Virtually all the take-aways and most of the food shops in Falcon Road and that area are Hal-al or Jamaican/Asian, and there is also a mosque and an Islamic education center.

It seems, having desgregated the Southern States of the USA and got rid of white-ruled, apartheid South Africa, here in England, judging by my local community, the races are increasingly segregated, evidently by their own choice.

Why do those of Jamaican origin all congregate on Pennethorne Square and in York Gardens for instance, and largely boycott the River towpath and Fred Wells Gardens? Pennethorne Square and York Gardens are like a little Jamaica, and white faces are definitely in a minority.

And is it good for state schools in the area all to be over 90% black/Asian/ethnic? For white kids to be educated separately, and probably privately?

In the Deep South in the 1960s they bussed children to schools so there was a mix of races, but here in Battersea (and presumably other parts of Britain) we have virtually all-black schools and all-white ones, all-black churches and predominately white ones, etc.

Part of the reason is the council’s policy of concentrating the remaining council estates in certain areas, and allocating the homes along ethnic lines. For instance, all the empty council homes in my block in recent years have been allocated to the black community – usually to single mothers.

This kind of policy started with the election of a Tory council in the late 1970s which has been in power in Wandsworth ever since, following Shirley Porter’s policies in neighboring Westminster by selling off council estates privately as luxury apartments to people most likely to vote Tory, and concentrating poorer working-class whites and the poorer ethnic communities, all more likely to vote Labour, in the few remaining council estates.

Consequently Latchmere, the ward I live in, is one of the few in the borough with three Labour councillors still.

Apartheid has officially been abolished in South Africa (though sadly the black townships still survive) and no more will you see signs in the Southern States saying ‘Whites Only’ or ‘Coloreds Only’. But if North Battersea is anything to go by, segregation is growing in England. The races are not mixing as much as they should for a truly multicultural, desegregated society.

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