Loughton is the third most ethnically ‘integrated’ town in England and Wales, a study has found.

By analysing the most recent census data, the think-tank Policy Exchange listed the Epping Forest town behind only Amersham in Buckinghamshire and Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands for integration.

Examining how minorities feel and how well ethnic groups mix together in work and neighbourhoods, Loughton was ranked above 157 other areas in the report.

Looking at towns with more than 20,000 people and bigger than 15 per cent non-White British populations, the study also ranked the worst places for integration – finding Boston in Lincolnshire at the bottom.

Loughton Residents’ Association councillor Chris Pond said he was glad to see the report.

He said: “It seems about right to me, and I hope we can continue maintain a friendly, well-balanced, happily co-existing community in the future.”

People from different ethnic and religious groups including Jews, Muslims and Hindus all “get on well together” in the town, he said.

He added: “We obviously had issues 10 years ago with the British National Party who set out to exploit differences between different groups.

“Fortunately that is in the past.”

Town clerk Enid Walsh said she was “very pleased” to learn of Loughton’s high standing in the study.

She said: “The town council and its team of staff have worked hard to ensure the area continues to be a great place to live and work.

“We do this by improving facilities for local families where we can, and by promoting and supporting the work of our many local organisations and charities that make such a difference.

“We also act as an information service to newcomers to the town and encourage them to join in the active local community.”

Integration head at Policy Exchange David Goodhart said: “Ethnic minority integration has shot up the political agenda in recent months and it is useful to know where the biggest challenges and the often quiet success stories actually are.”

He added: “We know that people of similar backgrounds tend to cluster together but we also know that a good society needs a sense of trust and mutual regard that crosses social and ethnic boundaries.

“It is critical that this country retains its traditions of openness and individual rights and some sense of mutual regard between citizens.

“That is why the government should try to promote mixed communities.”


Do you have any stories of community integration in Loughton? Want to let us know what you think? Phone our reporter Joseph Flaig on 07795 316 211.