Queen’s Park residents in north Westminster have voted ‘yes’ in a referendum to decide whether to establish a Community Council, better known as a Parish Council. The new council will be London’s first parish council since 1963, when parishes were abolished to make way for the Greater London Council.
The result was announced at 6pm this evening at Marylebone town hall. 1100 residents or 68% voted yes, 508 or 32% voted no. The turnout was around 20%, with 1608 votes cast (compared with 33% voting in Queen’s Park ward in the mayoral/GLA vote on May 3). The referendum was conducted by postal vote.
68.4% vote YES
Standing outside Marylebone town hall where Westminster City Council chief executive Mike More announced the result, Angela Singhate, who chairs the group of residents who have campaigned for the new council for two years, said “What a great result. The campaign group has been confident all along that a Community Council is the way forward for Queen’s Park and this result demonstrates that we have the backing of the wider community. The journey towards establishing a parish council here in north Westminster continues.”
Something very exciting is happening in Queen’s Park
Campaign vice-chair Emma Sweeney, who has five generations of her family living in the area, said “It’s been such hard work and now it’s all worth it. I’m looking forward to moving on to the next step and getting down to work.”
The community council campaign is not party political but has enjoyed support from local MP Karen Buck and ward councillors. Karen Buck said: “Something very exciting is happening in Queen’s Park. I am incredibly proud of the community and of those who have thrown themselves with such enthusiasm into preparing for community self-government. I am looking forward to working with them for a safer, healthier and happier Queen’s Park.”
Ward councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, who leads the Labour minority group on Westminster City Council, said: “This is a great result for the Queen’s Park community and a well-deserved success for the campaign team. We look forward to working closely with the new Community Council so that together we can make Queen’s Park an even better place to live.”
Neil Johnson, chief executive of Paddington Development Trust, a social enterprise that has supported the campaign group throughout, said: “This is an exciting day for London. The Queen’s Park Community Council’s referendum success points to a long awaited reform of local government and transfer of fiscal power to local people. The commitment of Queen’s Park residents to the future of their neighbourhood will serve as a working example to others. Well done to the many people who have taken part.”
A formal decision will be taken at a special meeting of Westminster Council on 25th June. Deputy Leader for Westminster City Council, Cllr Robert Davis said: “I am delighted that the residents of Queen’s Park have given a clear endorsement to the proposal for the community council. For Westminster to have the first parish council in London for fifty years would be a fitting endorsement of the Government’s ambitions for localism and neighbourhood engagement.”