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February 2020
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NALC backs bid for London's first parish council

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) has thrown its weight behind campaigners in Queen’s Park who want to set up London’s first parish council.

Westminster City Council’s consultation on how neighbourhoods are run ends today, with residents in Queen’s Park at the front of the queue to urge the City Council to grant them a new parish council so they can make improvements to their area and give people a voice.

As a supporter of localism, the Government’s approach to a greater devolution of power and decision making to the lowest possible level, NALC is calling for Westminster City Council to listen to residents in Queen’s Park and other areas who wish to have their own grassroots council.

Chairman of NALC, Councillor Michael Chater OBE said: -New parish councils in London would empower people to take more control over their lives and neighbourhoods. There is a clear case for a new parish council in Queen’s Park to join the 9000 grassroots councils that already exist across the country. I have been extremely impressed by the ambition and determination of the people in Queen’s Park to improve their community and the lives of residents through a new council.

-A Government white paper last year set out their support for parish councils and made it clear they wanted to see more councils established to take greater control over local services. As one of the Government’s flagship authorities, Westminster City Council has a golden and exciting opportunity to build on its track record of empowering communities by creating new parish councils in areas of Westminster where residents wish to do so.

Head of Policy and Development at NALC, Justin Griggs, who is leading their work in London to promote grassroots democracy and raise awareness about local councils, said: -A new council in Queen’s Park is the only democratic and transparent governance arrangement able to meet and sustain the needs and ambitions of residents. This is because it would have a statutory basis with a range of legal powers; be democratically accountable to local people; and able raise a precept from the local community to invest in neighbourhood services and projects. It would also have a positive impact on community cohesion.

Queen’s Park chair Angela Singhate says: -Our campaign began at a meeting in the community centre 18 months ago and it’s really exciting we’ve come this far. We hope Westminster City Council will listen to residents who have made it clear a community council is what they want. We are determined to make real improvements to our neighbourhood and the lives of all who live here.

Local schools, businesses, voluntary groups and the University of Westminster have also voiced their support for a new council in Queen’s Park.

Westminster City Council will decide on future governance arrangements at a meeting of the Council in May.

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