Councillor column: what do councillors do?

Hendon ward councillor Alex Prager on how he makes an impact

Conservative councillor for Hendon ward in Barnet, Alex Prager, with bags of rubbish near a bin in Hendon Park
Cllr Alex Prager – Conservative, Hendon

What exactly do Councillors do and how we tangibly impact our local areas?

Questions like these have shown me that the efforts required to keep our public spaces safe and suitable for all are rarely publicised or explained. Therefore, I wanted to use this week’s column to spotlight a number of efforts that my colleagues and I have been working on to ensure the continued accessibility and cleanliness of a public space that I am really passionate about – our parks.

As a Hendon resident, it was clear to me that Hendon Park needed some real TLC and, after being elected as a councillor in 2018, my ward colleagues and I finally had the chance to do something about it. There were three main areas of concern raised about this park: its safety, the limited children’s play equipment and cleanliness.

Those concerned about the park’s safety were rightfully worried; police statistics showed that the area was a crime hotspot and action needed to be taken. I supported the council’s £300,000 application to the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office for crime prevention measures, and ours was the only grant application in London to be successful. 

A fence installed in Hendon Park to deter crime
A fence installed in Hendon Park to deter crime

We installed a fence along the eastern side of the park to deter criminal activity, and CCTV cameras at known vulnerable spots – leading to a significant reduction in area crime statistics.

Memories of playing in local parks are amongst my most cherished memories and the ability of my children to enjoy these oft-underappreciated treasures is a driving force behind my passion.

That’s why, in March 2023, I requested £115,000 from Barnet Council for new play equipment in Hendon Park. This was unanimously approved, and we will soon see the installation of Barnet’s first play ship.

An artist's impression of the playship soon to be installed in Hendon Park
An artist’s impression of the playship soon to be installed in Hendon Park

We also reopened the park’s tennis courts last week after receiving funding from the Lawn Tennis Association, just in time for Wimbledon!

Parks are not the only green spaces that require TLC. Green spaces in urban areas are a refuge and cleanliness is key to the calm that people seek there.

Colleagues and I organised a series of litterpicks around the park. A particularly memorable litterpick focused on the neglected Millennium Woods. Identifying the real potential of this space, I obtained funding to get the trees cut back and the woodland opened up to the public and seeing families spending time there really makes all the work worth it.

Although this is just a very quick snapshot of the efforts that have been concentrated within Hendon Park, I hope it demonstrates just how expansive our initiatives need to be to ensure that our public spaces are fit for purpose and a source of local pride. It’s been my privilege to be a part of leading the improvement efforts in my ward, and I look forward to continuing to do so across Hendon! 

If you would like to organise some litterpicks or need any help within Hendon ward or across Barnet please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Alex Prager is one of three councillors representing Hendon ward, along with Joshua Conway and Mark Shooter (also Conservative).


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