Ken Livingstone backs bid for a Queen’s Park parish council

Mayor of London candidate Ken Livingstone has given his seal of approval for a landmark parish council to be created in Queen’s Park.

Mr Livingstone, who this week went on a walkabout around Westminster ahead of the mayoral elections next May, gave his backing to the Campaign for Queen’s Park Community Council.

The campaign, which handed in a 1,600 signature petition to Westminster Council earlier this year, aims to create the first parish in Greater London since a ban on them was lifted in 2007.

Mr Livingstone said he was “all in favour” of parish councils in the capital.

“Part of the problem with politics in Britain is either your entire life is taken up with politics or you vote every few years and there isn’t anything in between,” he said.

“Something like a parish council means people just have to give an evening a month and have an input in what is happening in their area. I think it would be worth doing that and growing them.”

He added: “The police team could report to them and the local schools report to them.

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“They could have a small local budget and decide do they want to provide more youth facilities or do they want more local festivals or things like that. They could be consulted on all minor planning applications.”

The campaign has been running since January when the Queen’s Park Neighbourhood Forum had its funding cut by Westminster Council.

Yesterday saw the launch of the Caring is Sharing project which has been led by the parish council campaign and sees primary school children deliver food parcels to vulnerable older people in the area.

Donations of groceries were piled up in boxes decorated by pupils at Queen’s Park Primary School and Ark Atwood Primary Academy. They were then given out to older and disabled people, with 107-year-old May Brinkley the first person to receive a box.

Campaign vice-chairman Emma Sweeney said: “Projects like this one are the reason why I want a community council in Queen’s Park – to bring a bit more community spirit back to the area.

“They cost pennies but can give so much joy – it’s just about the organisation.”

Residents from all over Westminster are being given the chance to comment on the creation of parish councils in the borough as part of Westminster’s Community Governance Review which runs until February.