'I say, don’t just get angry, get active'

Haringey civic centre, the base for Haringey Council

Haringey Council leader Cllr Peray Ahmet is accountable to resdients - Credit: Ken Mears

I have been leader now for around nine months and I think the biggest thing I have learnt is the importance of being up front with residents.

My friends tell me I am pretty straight talking, and I truly believe in being honest with people about the problems in the borough – be it the fact that women do not feel safe at night on our streets, or that there is a shameful inequality of wealth, health and resources between the east and the west of the borough which we are finding difficult to tackle.

We can only improve Haringey, if we understand each other, what isn’t working for people and how to make it better. We can only govern successfully if we trust each other and work together as equals.

Cllr Peray Ahmet, leader of Haringey Council

Cllr Peray Ahmet says that being upfront with residents is important - Credit: Haringey Council

It’s why I am so passionate about what I call co-production and why I want Haringey to be a council which thinks constantly about how we do things with our diverse resident groups, even if we sometimes hear things about our services and style that are difficult.

That means that I believe in accountability and that as councillors we have an obligation always to be able to account for our actions.

It goes to the heart of what it is to live in a democratic and open society. If we are to be allowed to govern, centrally and locally we have to be accountable to the public and never expect from them things we are not prepared to do ourselves.

That’s also why, like you, I have been so shocked by the revelations of what has apparently been going on in Downing Street. I know the sacrifices people in Haringey made during the lockdowns and it is why we are rightly appalled by the idea that not everyone felt equally obliged to stick by the rules. 

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When things like this happen, many people become disillusioned with politics. But decisions are made by those who get involved and make their voices heard. So I say, don’t just get angry, get active. 

There is still time to register to vote in May’s local elections – haringey.gov.uk/local-democracy/elections-and-voting/register-vote

I am determined more than ever to work closely with our residents and there will be more opportunities for you to get involved in council decision making and in shaping your communities going forward.

Cllr Peray Ahmet is leader of Haringey Council