Redbridge community leaders divided over Brexit vote

Bashir Chaudhry. Photo credit: Paul Bennett

Bashir Chaudhry. Photo credit: Paul Bennett - Credit: Archant

Community leaders have expressed their hopes and fears in the outcome of the UK’s referendum vote to leave the EU.

Rita Chadha, at the RAMFEL Centre, Ilford

Rita Chadha, at the RAMFEL Centre, Ilford - Credit: Archant

Bashir Chaudhry, chairman of the League of British Muslims, based in Eton Road, Ilford, wanted Great Britain to leave the EU.

Highlighting immigration as one of his primary concerns, Mr Chaudhry said the “types” of immigrants entering the UK differed to the those entering in the 1950s and 1960s.

He said: “I’m not against migration, migration is ok. We need people to replace the work force.

“Back then the minster invited people to come over. They came for work. It is the type of immigrants, they are coming for other reasons.

Mankamal Singh - Gurdwara Singh Sabha Seven Kings

Mankamal Singh - Gurdwara Singh Sabha Seven Kings - Credit: Archant

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“Prostitution here on the streets in Ilford is a huge menace, it is a social evil.”

Rita Chadha, executive director of the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL), said she was “disappointed” with the outcome.

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“I think immigration was used as an excuse,” she said. “People were voting about a whole range of other issues.”

She called such views on immigration “outdated”.

“In the 1950s and 1960s, people had no laws to protect them, now there are laws but people still have the same problems,” she said.

“It is views like those that misrepresent immigration, its an outdated understanding.”

Worried people have been phoning the charity to asking what the vote now means to them.

“We are holding a public meeting, next Thursday, to try and address people’s fears,” she continued.

“Immigrants of all complexions are both good and bad.

“People look through the past with rose tinted glasses. This generation is facing exactly the same problems.”

Mankamal Singh, of the Singh Sabha Gurdwara, High Road, Seven Kings, said he was “pretty shocked” at the result.

“My main worry has always been the undertone towards immigrants. I just hope it doesn’t create a hostile environment.”

Opposing Mr Chaudhry’s views, he continued: “Redbridge has always been diverse. These are prejudices that faced my parents and grandparents.

“I do feel that over the last few years, especially this campaign, has taken us back to old prejudices.”

Mr Chaudhry added that he hoped border controls would now be increased with checks to stop “criminals” coming in.

“Now at last that will be stopped,” he said. “Someone coming in genuinely legal, they can come in.”

He added that he hoped more money would now be made available to invest in the borough’s schools and housing shortage.

“If you keep building houses and keep bringing more people in, your defeating your own objective.

“Now there will be more money for local development.”

RAMEL will hold its public meeting between 6pm and 8pm on Thursday at the Cardinal Heenan Centre, High Road, Ilford.

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