Life in 'unforgettable' Southall where 'women aren't safe at night' and bikes are stolen in front of owners

Although traditionally a stalwart Labour seat with a large immigrant population and a long history of anti-fascist activism including residents rioting in 1979 to protest the National Front holding a meeting at the local town hall, MyLondon found a variety of different voters walking down Southall High Street. Safety and finances were on the lips of Southall residents when it came to their number one election priorities.

Tales of informal 'gangs' wandering areas of the constituency coupled with a lack of on-the-street policing have made many in the area nervous, while what their financial security could look like after the election was also a major source of concern. Business owner Mandip Kalsi says he is concerned about crime in Southall. He said that his three major concerns were: "Security, traffic, people are worrying about tax rates going up."

READ MORE: When are London General Election results? Timings for each seat after polls close at 10pm on Thursday

A car parked in Southall
Southall residents have raised the alarm about rubbish, crime and traffic in their local area -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

While lack of policing is a worry of his, when it comes to voting taxes are Mandip's primary concern. He added: "Things have already risen with interest rates going up, energy going up. So I think taxes are going to be a major thing."

"Keir Starmer is talking about raising taxes, Rishi Sunak is thinking about taking them down. I think tax rises are a major issue at a national level."

He added that he wanted to see "more police in the street" to ensure people's safety, a sentiment echoed by other people MyLondon spoke to. When asked if he thought Southall was sometimes politically sidelined due to its consistent return of a Labour candidate to parliament, Mandip disagreed.

"No one forgets Southall. Everyone knows about Southall. It is not forgotten," he said. The constituency has been represented in Parliament since 2007 by Labour's Virendra Sharma who is stepping down at this election.

Johnny Fernandes
Johnny Fernandes had his bikes stolen in front of him by a gang -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Johnny Fernandes says that he has not felt the presence of any of the candidates standing at the election. He said: "These candidates, they never come publicly, maybe if they came publicly people would have heard of them."

The seven-year resident is also worried about crime in Southall and the lack of police resources to tackle it. He said: "Crimes are increasing, it is unsafe for women in the night, even for males.

"The police don't seem to be able to take action about these guys very seriously. They are not scared of the police.

"My [bikes] were robbed in front of me. I could not do anything because there were three or four guys. When I contacted the police they said there are no cameras we cannot help you."

On everyone's mind were their wallets and what they would look like after the next election. Johnny says energy bills are 'a big big killer' and that the current government is doing enough to tax large energy companies who are making billions in profits.

Harmeen Kaur
Harmeen Kaur said her biggest worries were 'rent and safety' -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

He also raised concerns about NHS waiting times saying after he cut his finger he had to wait 'five or six hours' to be seen. He added that people he knew "are scared to go there" due to long queues.

Harmeen Kaur, a resident of Southall for 20 years, said that her biggest concerns were 'rent and safety'. She said that as a woman she did not always feel safe in Southall and had been a victim of theft.

"One day someone just broke into my car, it was on my driveway and still they broke into my car. So, safety is a big issue," she said. Harmeen says that in the 20 years she has been in the area, rent has skyrocketed, something she blames, in part, on the area's ever-increasing population.

She added: "These days there are so many students here, it is becoming too crowded and because of that rent has increased as well." She is also struggling with NHS waiting times, saying: "I want [the government] to improve the GP as well because you don't see you face to face anymore they just do consultations online."

"There is a very big waiting list as well. I have a problem with my feet but it has been more than a year and I can't get a hold of a GP they just do consultations and x-rays but they don't go further and it doesn't do anything."

Mehk Mir
As a single mum Mehk Mir says she finds life almost impossible -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Restaurant manager Mehk Mir says as a single mother a normal life has become almost impossible due to the cost of living. She said: "Living costs have gone so ridiculously high that for a single mother of two like me, it is just so difficult to live a normal life.

"Now nothing is possible. First, it was easier to manage a couple of tuitions as well, extra curricular activities as well but now it is just not. No one has extra money." Working in hospitality Mehk has seen first-hand how people have gone from weekday visits to restaurants to weekend visits to barely going out to eat.

She adds: "I remember three years ago you could easily get a nice meal for maximum £15-16 per head going in a restaurant now nothing is below £25-30 and if you have a family of 4 or 5 who can afford that every week?

"I think we should keep our hopes high that someone will come and help us if not this government then the next one." Gavin Grewal says of the four years he has lived in Southall he has seen the area get increasingly crowded.

He added: "I think [the government] should get more jobs for people because there are a lot of people lettering on the street, a lot of homeless people they should get them jobs."

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