Putting Acton On The Map

A local resident tells Ealing to wake up - W3 is about to get 'extremely interesting'

A council-led meeting has been held in Acton to try and find ways for residents to make better use of the borough's night-time economy.

However it seems very few locals were aware of it - and attendance very low.

One local resident - fed up Ealing's general treatment and disregard of Acton - did attend and has sent us this report.

bridge sign

I love Acton. I live here, shop here, eat and drink here and walk my dog in local parks

In Acton Town Hall last week, an event took place billed as ‘Ealing at Night’. I found out about it through a re-tweeted Twitter post from a councillor. As a keen user of local businesses, I often think about what Acton needs and how we can kickstart regeneration to make W3 more attractive for locals and even people from outside Acton. I wouldn’t want to miss an event entitled ‘Acton at night’ but I decided to see what excitements ‘Ealing at Night’ had in store for us.

I found I was the only person there during the half hour or so I was chatting to Helen Statham (regulatory services, operations manager for Ealing Council) and Anton Nisbeth who said he doesn’t work for the council but is helping out with this initiative.

This appeared to be an event which is aimed at getting a discussion going with the people of Acton and has been inaccurately named and barely publicized. Neither Helen nor Anton knew that in Acton we have a very active website (actonW3.com), and newsletter – 4,000 subscribers - as well as a Nextdoor email group, @ChurchfieldW3 instagram stream (nearly 2,000 followers) and various Twitter feeds including @ArtsActon, @ActonW3News and @actonw3.com. They also did not know that next door to where we were, there is a large, beautiful, disused building which used to house Acton Library.

Why is it that Acton is almost never mentioned by Ealing Council? Those of us who live here know that Acton always has been labelled as ‘up and coming’. I’ve been hearing that phrase since 1987. But now with a new shopping centre about to open, a Crossrail station coming (at some point, we assume) and possibly a huge transport superhub (HS2 Old Oak Common) looming, it would be very odd if we weren’t ‘up and coming’.

Huge skyscrapers are being built in North and East Acton – and even on Churchfield Road - as well as the new Acton Gardens blocks replacing South Acton Estate. These will increase the population and the footfall for local businesses which is a good thing (so long as infrastructure, schools and medical services are increased to service the new residents). If the existing businesses thrive, it will encourage more interesting businesses to come here.

The posters at the ‘Ealing at Night’ event seemed to be predominantly Ealing-centric – although I was shown a collage about W3 which looked as though it had been at the bottom of someone’s school bag for a few weeks.

I was asked what would make me visit Greenford/Southall/Hanwell for my evening’s entertainment. I found this quite baffling. I said that if I read a review telling me that the best new restaurant in West London was available in one of those places, I might make the trek – but I would much rather eat, drink and make merry in my own bit of the borough, using my legs to get there instead of jumping onto a train, bus or into a car. And if I’m going to drive somewhere, I would rather go East to Notting Hill (3.9 miles from W3) instead of Greenford (5.1 miles from W3). Wouldn’t you?

We did have a useful discussion about what would make Acton a destination (attract independent businesses by cutting business rates; provide entertainment in the form of an arts centre/cinema/theatre; fine companies actual huge sums of money for owning perennially empty buildings like Beechworth House and Club 808). Maybe hundreds of people arrived after I left at 10.30. I hope so. They would need to be telepathic, though. It would be great to finally put Acton properly on the map and for it to be treated like the interesting, varied, creative place we live in, and even for it to get the odd mention in occasional communications and initiatives announced by Ealing Council.

I’ve heard mutterings about a number of exciting, innovative grass-roots initiatives being planned by locals. It’s as if we’ve waited a long time for someone to turn the sprinkler on and suddenly water is bubbling up from an underground stream.

Wake up Ealing! Acton is about to get extremely interesting!

An Acton Resident

14 March 2019