IN DEPTH: Nash Ali - Lets get back to grass roots

Susanna Wilkey NASIM Ali has lived in Camden nearly all his life and believes he has the grass roots knowledge of council services to make the best policies at the top. He has been a councillor for Regent s Park since 2002 and leader of the Labour group s

Susanna Wilkey

NASIM Ali has lived in Camden nearly all his life and believes he has the grass roots knowledge of council services to make the best policies at the top.

He has been a councillor for Regent's Park since 2002 and leader of the Labour group since May last year and believes his party has a real chance of winning back control of Camden Council which they historically lost in 2006 after 35 years in charge.

Known as Nash, Cllr Ali is director of the Marchmont Community Centre in Russell Square and was the first person to win a Camden Good Citizen Award in 1998 for setting up a Camden youth football league to bring people together.


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He said: "We are really excited about the upcoming elections and all the signs are very positive for us. We want to see change and we want to make sure there is more positive working in terms of what the council does for the local community.

"We have selected all our candidates and some have been in place for a long time. Our membership has been increasing and there is a lot of support out there.

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"Given that it looks like the general and local elections are going to be on the same day, the squeeze will be on the Lib Dems."

Cllr Ali said the coalition in Camden between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives is falling apart and he is glad his party turned down the chance of a three-way coalition in 2006.

"We wanted to make sure we stayed with our principles and we made the right choice," he said.

"The Conservatives went into it and now they regret it because they are blaming it on the Lib Dems when it goes wrong. In that way the coalition has not worked and there have been lots of internal fights going on."

Cllr Ali, 41, lives in Chalk Farm with his wife and three children. He says Camden is an excellent place to live because of decades of investment under Labour.

"There is something for everyone in Camden, for the rich and the disadvantaged people," he said. "We have got some of the best frontline services and people love Camden and want to live here.

"People should vote Labour because we would invest in frontline services like housing and make sure there are enough school places.

"We have to be one step ahead and we focus on the right issues. We will make sure there is value for money and the resources are spent in the right places and that we support people with the services they need.

"We will protect frontline services and look at back room details and where we can make savings. There is a lot of capacity there.

"It will be tough for all public services over the next few years and there will be difficult choices to make but we will not let people suffer."

Cllr Ali said he became a councillor because he wanted to make a difference.

"Being a councillor has been amazing," he said. "I have had almost every portfolio going since I was elected, including being the Mayor in 2003.

"I went into politics because I work in the voluntary sector and I wanted to make a difference and make sure the right services are being provided."

He says the party's candidates for Camden are all very exciting and there is a great mix of people.

"They have been out campaigning for the past year or so - it has been non-stop," he said. "We have been listening to what the people have been saying and we want to look at ways we can engage with people better. The most valuable asset to Camden is its people. We need to listen to them and work with them.

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