Q&A: My Belsize Park, by Cllr Luisa Porritt


- Credit: Kareen Cox

Councillor Luisa Porritt explains her passion for Belsize Park and its surrounding areas

What brought you to the area where you live?

Belsize Park is where my family home is, and I moved back to the area last year. I maintained my connection with NW3 over the years as I used to volunteer for Cancer Research UK's Hampstead store.

After living overseas and elsewhere in London, I can safely say there is nowhere quite like Belsize!

What makes Belsize Park unique?

In London, it is unusual to be situated so near to large parks such as Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill and Regents Park. Belsize Park also has a village-like feel, and has managed to preserve several independent cafes, shops and restaurants. I particularly like the wide pavements on Haverstock Hill, where I live, as it means you can sit outside in the summer.

You have a day off to spend in Belsize Park, what do you do?

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If it's a Thursday, I would first go and buy a copy of the Ham & High up the road! Then grab brunch at either Chez Bob or Chamomile on England's Lane. If it's raining, visit the Everyman cinema. In warm weather, walk up to the Heath to use the Hampstead ponds. Finally, a drink in The Washington followed by Curry Manjill!

Why did you get involved with politics?

I have always been interested in politics, but as I used to be a journalist it felt important to remain independent and not party-affiliated. The EU referendum changed that. Having benefited from free movement by studying in France, I decided to join the Liberal Democrats a few days after the result and fight for young people's rights / those who voted Remain.

What do you do for your day job?

Pursuing a range of projects and interests keeps me stimulated (and busy!). Mainly, I manage the UK and international business of a financial communications agency which started in France. I also teach economic, social and European history for the University of London's International Programme. And I've now added being a Councillor into the mix!

Who is the most inspiring person you've met?

My former professor and friend Lawrence Saez. Lawrence taught me during my Master's degree. He was an energising and inspiring teacher who continues to offer support. More recently, Lawrence has been battling with a terminal illness and, characteristically, has taken adversity in his stride; his good humour and drive to help others is incredible (not to mention his undiminished enjoyment of the finer things!)

What are you excited about for the rest of this year?

Finally winning The Washington's pub quiz! And getting my teeth into my new responsibilities as a councillor. With positions on key scrutiny committees and being part of a Lib Dem Group, I am looking forward to holding the Labour-run council to account. I am also excited about the prospect of a "people's vote" to rethink Brexit, which Camden residents overwhelmingly oppose.