Council joins forces with cultural leaders to fight for greater funding

Influx of Eastern Europeans putting "huge pressure" on local resources

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Hammersmith and Fulham Council have appealed to the Government for greater funding to help deal with the continuing rise of Eastern European immigrants in the borough.

Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh stated that the "huge increase in population" was putting pressure on refuse collection, libraries, parks, street cleaning and schools.

This week the council joined forces with Polish cultural leaders to attack the use of outdated population figures for funding, as official statistics revealed a staggering 563% increase in new East European accession state workers over the last three years.

Home to one of Britain’s oldest and longest established Polish Communities, Hammersmith has proved a particularly popular destination for workers from the accession states since EU enlargement in May 2004.  However, official government funding remains based on the borough’s population in the 2001 national census.

Town hall chiefs have now joined colleagues in the Local Government Association (LGA), and more than 25 councils nationwide, to blast the ‘chaotic, unfair and inaccurate’ funding formula grant system.

Council leader, Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, said “The eastern European community has been a vital part of Hammersmith & Fulham since WW2 and before. The Polish Cultural Centre (POSK) is only 400 yards from the town hall and we even have a Polish eagle on our Mayoral regalia.

“However, we have experienced a massive rise in people coming here to work as builders, au pairs and waiters in the last two years. The ‘Sciana Placzu’, (‘wailing wall’) on King Street is famous throughout Eastern Europe for its job adverts. However, this huge increase in population is starting to put pressure on refuse collection, libraries, parks, street cleaning and schools. 

“It is ridiculous for the government to base its funding formula on five year old population figures which ignore these changes completely. Combined with the third lowest allocation of formula grant, per head of population, in inner London and a below average increase forecast for the foreseeable future, the figures just don’t add up.”

Dr Olgierd Lalko, Chairman of The Polish Social and Cultural Association (POSK), backed the council’s view explaining, “The Polish Social and Cultural Association recognises the enormous economic and social contribution that the Poles have made to Hammersmith & Fulham and we whole-heartedly support the council’s endeavours to secure fair funding for the borough."

The call for greater funding came in the same week that the Government announced proposals to introduce work permits for Bulgarians and Romanians.  The new scheme is being considered by ministers in an attempt to limit the number of economic migrants allowed to come to Britain when the two countries become members of the European Union next year.

 

September 5, 2006