Banking on Jamaica
A CRUSADE by the Jamaican community for a branch of their national bank to be opened in the borough attracted an important visitor to the area on Saturday. Earl Jarrett, managing director of Jamaica National Bank (JNB), was taken on a fact-finding tour t
A CRUSADE by the Jamaican community for a branch of their national bank to be opened in the borough attracted an important visitor to the area on Saturday.
Earl Jarrett, managing director of Jamaica National Bank (JNB), was taken on a fact-finding tour through Harlesden to highlight a need for a branch on its high street.
Jamaican traders turned out in force to show Mr Jarrett the fruits of their labour and support the calls for a branch.
Harlesden is said to have more residents of Jamaican heritage than any other borough in London yet the nearest high street branch of JNB is in Shepherd's Bush.
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The area is also home to 28 businesses owned by people from the Jamaican community.
Dawn Butler, MP for Brent South, Cllr Lincoln Beswick MBE, who has lived in Harlesden for more than 40 years, and Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala, who represents the Stonebridge ward, joined Mr Jarrett.
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He visited a string of business run by compatriots including One Stop Jerk Centre, Style International Hairdressers which has been run by Iris Guy for 30 years, New Look Travel, Lloyds Grocers and Hawkeye Sports Shop which is an agent for JNB.
Vee Dixon has run from One Stop Jerk Centre and a sister branch in the area for 11 years, she said: "It was a very good thing for the Jamaican community.
"The day went well and I hope they do open a branch in Harlesden."
The tour finished at the Stonebridge Hillside Hub where Cllr Beswick and Ms Butler were rewarded for their contribution to the community.
Cllr Beswick said: "Mr Jarrett's visit demonstrates that the two-way flow from Harlesden to Jamaica and vice versa.
"The Jamaican community is overwhelmed by such support and not before time.
"It needs to be taken seriously and JNB should realise they need to do something for the Jamaicans and their businesses.
"Now it's been taken from the top and the premier bank institution like the JNB has recognised the businesses and their potential.
"Mr Jarrett's visit is an endorsement of the moving process forward and taking pride of people of Jamaican background and heritage."
Regarding his award for his contribution to the community, he added: "I am very privileged that I have been recognised by my country."
Ms Butler was given in award for her political success on the first anniversary of becoming the country's first ever black Labour party whip.
She said: "It was a wonderful surprise and honour to receive an award on the first anniversary of me making history.
"It's something I'm proud of and I'm proud to be the MP for Brent south. I am humbled that I have been honoured in this way.
"Earl Jarrett's visit was a huge boost to the West Indian community especially the Jamaican community in Harlesden which has more Jamaican businesses per square mile than anywhere in the UK.
"His visit was a symbol of a new approach to the Jamaican Diaspora.
"Usain Bolt has put Jamaica on the map in terms of athletics and now Jamaica wants to be put on the map as term as a growing and thriving economy.
"I think with there being more Jamaicans in Harlesden and Stonebridge than anywhere else in Europe I think it would be a badge of honour for JNB to set up a bank in the area.