Queen’s Park community council a step closer

Residents hand over a petition demanding a community council in their ‘neglected’ corner of Westminster

Queen’s Park is a step closer to establishing London’s first ever community council after campaigners delivered a 1,500 signature petition to the council.

Residents are fighting to set up the council, which has powers akin to a parish council, in the hope that it will help to transform the ‘neglected’ corner of North Westminster.

Emma Sweeney, vice chair of the Campaign for Queen’s Park Community Council said: “Queen’s Park is a neglected area of the borough historically and it has always been like this.

“It was surprising, more people than I thought know what a community council is. We were talking about it on the doorstep and we see this as a way of empowering residents and fighting on the issues the community thinks is most important.”

Queen’s Park falls within the top 10 per cent of most deprived wards nationally. And some 57 per cent of children live in poverty, according to figures released by the End Child Poverty Action campaign.

The campaign was launched in January in part out of a desire to stymie funding cuts after the Government announced that the Queen’s Park Neighbourhood Working Forum will close.

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Residents credit the forum with having helped regenerate the area and helped to unite a community otherwise divided by class and gang rivalries. It is this legacy they want to continue.

Campaigners have not said they want to take over any specific services from Westminster Council. However, if they are successful, the area will get its own parish council and elected members, who would have control over community buildings, sports facilities and green spaces.

Ms Sweeney said: “We have not said we are going to take over any services but people have got a range of problems, from housing to anti social behaviour and crime. We would want to take up people’s problems.

“People round here love Queen’s Park, it is an amazing place, we want to tap into this.”

The petition triggers a governance review at Westminster Council whereby all residents in the ward will be consulted on whether they want a community council.

If the majority wan one, a community council will be set up.

Cllr Colin Barrow, leader of Westminster Council, said: “We always welcome people wanting to get involved in shaping their communities to make it a better place to live and work.”