Census reveals our cultural diversity

Polish is now the most common second language in Northamptonshire according to the census
Polish is now the most common second language in Northamptonshire according to the census

The north of the county is one of the most culturally diverse places in the region, figures from the 2011 census released last week have indicated.

Nationally, Polish has become the second most widely spoken mother tongue, something reflected in our area.

In all four local government areas in the north of the county, Polish is the second most common language.

Overall, one in 20 people in the north of the county speak a main language other than English.

More than 2,200 people, or four per cent of the population, speak Polish in the borough of Corby, contributing towards a total of one in 10 people there who speak a language other than English.

But the language question was not asked in the previous census, in 2001, meaning it is difficult to determine exactly how the population has changed over the decade.

In Wellingborough, the Polish-speaking population was 2,050 (2.8 per cent) at the time of the census, while the equivalent number for Kettering was 1,154, or 1.3 per cent.

East Northamptonshire’s Polish-speaking numbers were just 443 in 2011, the equivalent of just 0.5 per cent of the district’s population.

In East Northants only two languages – English and Polish – are spoken by more than 100 residents.

That compares to six languages in Wellingborough, 10 in Kettering and 11 in Corby, the majority European.

The census also asked people to assess their proficiency in English. In Wellingborough, 188 people said they could not speak it at all, which translates into one in every 400 people.

In Corby the figure was 143, in Kettering it was 115 and in East Northamptonshire it was 73.

In Corby, 29 people said their first language was Scots.

Mohammad Aman, the manager of the Kettering Food and Wine store in Rockingham Road – which sells mostly Polish, Lithuanian, Romanian and Bulgarian products – said the overwhelming majority of his customers were from eastern Europe.

And he said the shop had done an increasingly brisk trade since it opened four years ago. He added: “It’s running very well. But if I get 100 people, maybe only two are British.”

Pritul Khagram, the chairman of the Wellingborough District Hindu Association, said the town benefits from its multiculturality.

He said: “Wellingborough has a diverse range of people from multicultural backgrounds. This makes it a very exciting place to be in. The census results show Wellingborough has a high number of people who do not speak English as a first language.

“This makes Wellingborough unique and should be taken as a compliment as all these people chose to live in our town, which puts us on the map.”

Cllr Mohammed Rahman, the mayor of Corby and the first Asian person to hold the position, said the census details for his town were a reflection of it being a diverse and tolerant place to live.

He said: “It’s a fantastic town. The figures show Corby has embraced multiculturalism. We live in one society, one community, regardless of ethnicity or race. You can take me as an example.”

Cllr Rahman added: “The town has progressed so well. The people of Corby are always welcoming. It’s shown clearly it is a diverse town.”