Campaign underway for Queen’s Park parish council

Determined residents hand petition to Westminster

PARISH councils are normally the domain of small countryside villages but one group of north Westminster residents is determined to bring a little bit of the country to the capital.

The Campaign for Queen’s Park Community Council handed over a 1,500 signature petition to Westminster Council on Monday asking to become the first parish council – also known as a community council – in London.

The move grew out of residents’ determination to protect the legacy of their elected Neighbourhood Forum, which saw its funding completely withdrawn by the council last year as part of the ongoing public spending cuts.

The forum had played a vital role in revitalising the deprived neighbourhood in which more than half of children live in poverty.

Since the start of the year the group of residents have gone door-to-door in the neighbourhood and collected over 1,500 signatures in a bid to show just how important this proposal is to residents.

If given the go ahead the community council will seek to continue to support community work in Queen’s Park by tackling local issues and improving vital services including healthcare, housing, employment and crime prevention.

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Angela Singhate, chair of the Forum and the Campaign, said: “It’s vital for us to get this proposal through as the residents of Queen’s Park need to have their voices heard. The council will be completely in the interests of the neighbourhood and will provide a level of local government that gets a wider range of people involved in the democratic process.

“It’s been fantastic campaigning in Queen’s Park, meeting so many people with different stories to tell all uniting behind this initiative. The fact that we have got so many signatures just shows you the great community spirit in Queen’s Park and will highlight that in our petition.”

Vice-chair Emma Sweeney added: “Handing over the petition went fantastically well and the response was really positive from the council. We decided that we could not afford to lose the work that the forum does so that is why we are campaigning for a parish council. We are not looking to take over parking or bins or anything like that but we are trying to give the community a voice.”

The group handed over the petition to leader of the council Colin Barrow and chief executive Mike More. The council will now undertake a governance review and a consultation with community groups before making a decision, likely to be later this year.

Cllr Barrow said: “We always welcome people wanting to get involved in shaping their communities to make it a better place to live and work.

“A review will now be carried out to ask the wider community in Queen’s Park about the idea of a parish council. We will then publish our recommendation setting out if a parish council is appropriate for this area.”

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