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What the Census tells us about how Croydon is changing
18/12/2012 18:25:00


Earlier this week the Office for National Statistics released the census data from 2011.

Since the last census in 2001, the population of Croydon has risen from 330,587 to 363,378.

Croydon Council has long argued that the 2001 census under-estimated our population and that as a result public services in Croydon haven’t been getting a fair share of the cake in terms of Government funding. I will be pressing the Government to start using the new data as soon as possible.

There has to be a question about whether this rate of population growth is sustainable. That’s why I support a reduction in net migration. But it is equally important that infrastructure improvements accompany any future population growth – the failure of the last Labour Government to ensure this was one of their biggest mistakes and put real pressure on public services.

It’s no surprise that the census shows significant changes in the demography of Croydon. In 2001, 63.7% of residents defined themselves as “White British”; that number is now 47.3%. “Black Caribbean” makes up the next largest group at 8.6% with the “Black African” community comprising the third largest group at 8.0%. This is followed by “British Indian” at 6.8%, “Mixed Race” at 6.6% and “Other White” at 6.3%.

Over 70% of the population were born in the UK and a further 17.3% have been resident in the UK for over 10 years.

This diversity is nothing to be scared of – indeed it can be a huge asset for Croydon. If we are going to win the global race we are engaged in, it is going to be by trading with emerging economic superpowers like India or China. Diaspora communities give us a big advantage.

But we do need to make sure that people integrate, that we have a strong, cohesive society. We have a pretty good record in that regard - research shows that Croydon residents are more likely to feel that people from different backgrounds get along with each other than residents in many other areas. But we shouldn’t pretend that everything is perfect - there are people who have settled here but never bothered to learn the language and hence can’t play a full part in our society and, even worse, extremists who seek to divide our community on grounds of race or faith.

Integration is a word that means different things to different people so I had better be clear what I mean. To my mind, integration is a two-way street. It’s partly about people who come here learning the language and way of life, but it is also about our attitude towards new arrivals - if we want people to integrate, we have to be welcoming. And it’s absolutely not about forcing people into choosing between British and being proud of their origins.

People from all around the world have chosen to make our town their home. We should be proud of that. And they are contributing to our town, setting up new businesses, helping to provide public services, enriching our cultural life. Some people are unsettled by the pace of change, worried about the pressure on public services. But if we slow down the rate of change, if we make sure sufficient infrastructure is provided, if we focus on building a stronger, more cohesive community, Croydon’s diversity can be the foundation of its future success.

Comment on this blog


Readers' Comments

On 19/12/2012 10:38:00 Tony Martin wrote:
Immigration was out of control long before the last Labour government came to power.

I live in Thornton Heath, where we have community centres for just about every race going except White British.

For every new immigrant the equivalent of all their food needs to be imported.

We are told "we need immigrants to do the jobs British people don't want to do" we are also told ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by unemployment" add the 2 together and we get 'Immigrants are coming here to do the jobs second generation immigrants don't want to do'.

On 19/12/2012 15:14:00 Carol wrote:
Only one comment on this issue?
On 20/12/2012 00:31:00 Jim wrote:
The census is a highly intrusive invasion of civil liberties - I was disappointed that the government allowed it to go ahead. Another example of bureaucrats making work for themselves at our expense. It is out of date already, but didn't tell us anything we didn't know already. I don't appear on it.

I don't see the point in looking at "net migration". Zero net migration could mean nobody is moving. Or it could mean local professionals are escaping to be replaced by low-skilled, high-maintenance immigrants.

The government is not in control of immigration. We do not get to select who we want here. We have asylum seekers asserting their rights, illegals that can't be found or get exceptional leave to remain and those from elsewhere in the EU who have a right to come here. So the stupid stupid stupid desperate policy seems to hit companies wishing to get work permits for highly skilled foreigners and to crank up the bureaucracy for genuine students who wish to buy our overrated university courses. UK plc shooting itself in the foot again.

I'm spending Christmas with a friend who having been offered a place at Surrey University (fees: £12000), didn't qualify for a student visa. So now she is in Munich and Germany's getting the benefit of her spend. Crazy thing is, as a Taiwanese she doesn't even need a visa to come here. Only if she wants to be a student. So if she was going to come here and work illegally, she would hardly bother getting a student visa. Which clever civil servant dreamt up this scheme?

On 21/12/2012 17:20:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
"I live in Thornton Heath, where we have community centres for just about every race going except White British"

I thought community centres for White British people were called pubs?

On 23/01/2013 23:23:00 Penny Munden wrote:
With regards to those immigrants who don't learn the language and integrate, we could learn from the Canadian programme for new immigrants, where they are expected to undergo language learning courses as part as their immigration process. Here it seems to be on a choice basis. In the the long run this would reduce intepreting costs and it would make certain sections of immigrant groups undergo English classes. It would, of course, be necessary to provide creche facilities for some of these learners, but it would especially help to empower women in some immigrant groups where the men folk do not encourage them to get out to language classes.



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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2019       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG