One of the 12 surviving children who fled the Spanish Civil War after the bombing of Guernica in 1937. Francisco (Paco) Robles of Northolt enjoyed a visit to the House of Commons arranged by his MP Steve Pound where he was pleased to meet Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP and have an extensive conversation in Spanish.
When the London Borough of Ealing was formed in 1965 it brought together many disparate areas in what was initially an uneasy relationship.
The part of the present Borough that was most uneasy was Northolt.
Right up to the wire no-one at the then County Hall seemed to know whether Northolt would go into Harrow, Brent or Ealing.
It is to our great good fortune that Northolt – originally designated as the “added areas” – was incorporated into our borough.
The two Northolt Wards of West End and Mandeville have been part of the Ealing North Parliamentary Constituency from that date but now a dark shadow lies over their future.
The boundary commissioners are suggesting that both Northolt wards migrate into the Uxbridge Constituency of Hillingdon and in exchange we in Ealing North gain the Brent North wards of Sudbury and Northwick Park.
This will produce a very odd shaped constituency to be called Greenford and Sudbury with the MP having to work with two borough councils and make sense of a constituency that has been spatchcocked to create somewhere that may match the numbers but bears no relation to the patterns of community life that mean so much to us in Ealing North.
Until this month I would have not given you anything for the chances of the boundary review being enacted as even though there is clearly an appetite for the reduction of the number of MPs from 650 to 600 it was never going to go through as the Democratic Unionist Party were mighty perturbed by the proposal.
Now – suddenly – an amended proposal for Northern Ireland has appeared as if by a miracle and, lo and behold, it gives the DUP exactly what they wanted and cements their ten seats.
On that basis and as the overall picture will see an electoral advantage for the Conservatives I anticipate much flannel about renewed parliamentary democracy and a cold hearted analysis on the part of the government that the balance has now tipped in their favour.
Obviously there will have to be a silken parachute for the government members displaced but many and varied are the levers of patronage available to the ruling party so watch out for a shower of ermine and quangos to rain down on those who may be inconvenienced by the new boundaries.
And what about poor old Northolt? Cast adrift from Ealing North and hurled into the chill embrace of Uxbridge and it’s sitting MP, Boris Johnson.
What has UB5 done to deserve such cruelty?
These may be my views but hardly anyone has objected to the proposal and the consultation period has now closed.
We await the final word from the boundary commission but I fear the worst.
If Northolt has an affinity with any part of the world outside Ealing then it is surely either South Harrow or Yeading down towards Hayes. Uxbridge is not a natural fit but that is as nothing compared to the barmy boundary that will encompass a constituency running from Northwick Park all the way south to the GWR line in Hanwell and from Perivale west to Greenford and no further.
Let’s see what the final proposal is and my message to Sudbury and Northwick Park is that I have great affection and respect for their citizens but feel that they would be happier remaining in Brent and for Northolt I say – please don’t go. You are one of the best parts of the borough and we do not want to lose you.
Of course Northolt will still be in the Borough of Ealing but if you live there you will not be able to vote for the Ealing North MP. Your councillors will still be Ealing councillors and you’ll still pay Council Tax to Ealing but your representative in Parliament will have Uxbridge as his or her main concern.
Much confusion lies ahead!