Councillor column: my priorities for West Hendon

West Hendon councillor Ernest Ambe (Labour) on the key issues in his ward

Barnet councillor for West Hendon ward Ernest Ambe (Labour)
Councillor Ernest Ambe – Labour, West Hendon

I’ve lived in and around the borough for over 15 years.

I started my journey to becoming a councillor when I saw the impact that my then MP, Labour’s Rudi Vis, had on my situation. Rudi and his team supported me at a very important time, and I want to do the same for others.

As I began to campaign for Labour, I saw the impact that an effective councillor could have on a local community. As a lawyer and active trade unionist, I see every day, whether it’s through my professional life, union work or my councillor role, how representatives can make a difference to people’s lives.

West Hendon is a very diverse ward with lovely people. Above the railway line, in NW4, feels very much part of the rest of Hendon. Below the railway line in NW9 around the A5 West Hendon Broadway, there is a lot of regeneration and development going on, and I am working tirelessly with council officers to help ensure that it is joined up.

To the south of the ward is the renowned Brent Cross shopping centre, which is so important for Barnet. The outstanding Welsh Harp reservoir, which Natural England has designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, is also in West Hendon.

It is critical that developers and major businesses in the ward support the community through social value initiatives. I’ve engaged with the developer L&Q who have agreed to provide and Install a brand new kitchen at the West Hendon Multicultural Community Centre on Algernon Road – they are also repainting the inside of St Matthias’s Church on Rushgrove Avenue.

After talking to other developers such as St Georges and Barratt, we got them to financially support the first West Hendon Summer Solstice festival which will take place on 21st June 2023 from 3pm-8pm on Damsel Walk, NW9.

Hammerson, which runs Brent Cross, have also donated to a project for the creation of a Windrush Archive ahead of the 75th anniversary of Windrush which is on 22 June 2023. I was also instrumental in setting up the West Hendon Arts and Culture Society (WHACS) whose goal is to promote arts and culture in West Hendon, fostering good community relations and gelling old and new residents.

West Hendon contributes a lot to the economy of Barnet, and North West London in general. With my ward colleagues, I’ve lobbied hard for West Hendon to get more investment from the council. Some of the successes include getting the council to repave Foscote Road and Rushgrove Avenue, securing over £110,000 for the refurbishment of Sturgess Park and currently get more investment into the public realm on West Hendon Broadway.

I also stood up to a local developer and housing association to ensure that allocated parking for more than 100 social tenants which was part of a regeneration pledge was reinstated to these residents when the developer tried to take it away. It was a challenging campaign, but we were successful.

With my colleagues, I have set up a warm space, a parent and children support hub, and I am in the process of setting a community hub for older residents in West Hendon. I also provided support in setting up the local foodbank. These initiatives have helped in providing vital support to the most disadvantaged residents in the area.

Another part of my role as councillor is on the board of the London Youth Games. You may not know that Barnet’s young people are particularly good at cross country running – they came third in the most recent games. The Labour administration are looking into a special initiative to promote girls’ football across the borough, its something I plan to work on in the coming months and years.

It’s important to me that today’s decisions for West Hendon adopt a long-term perspective and can stand the test of time and subsequent representatives will have a solid foundation to build on. My priorities for the year ahead will be in supporting the amazing civil society and communities in West Hendon, getting more investment in the area whilst preparing a long-term strategy for the ward and ensuring that the council and the private sector play their role in doing so as well.

Ernest Ambe is one of three councillors representing West Hendon, alongside Andrea Bilbow and Rishikesh Chakraborty (also Labour)

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