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Councillor column: walking, talking and cleaning

Brunswick Park councillor Paul Lemon on identifying issues in his ward

Headshot of Paul Lemon, a Labour councillor for Brunswick Park ward in the London Borough of Barnet
Cllr Paul Lemon – Labour, Brunswick Park

I became a councillor because I wanted to play my part in trying to ensure that the parts of life we share together – the high streets, the parks, our environment, are healthy and flourishing.

I grew up in Newport in South Wales in the late 70s and into the Thatcher years. One thing that happened when I was a kid, and when I used to go back there as a young adult, is that public spaces were deteriorating. More and more shops were boarded up, and I saw more and more rough sleepers.

When the Conservatives came to power in 2010, I started to see similar things in London, where I lived. Consequently, I decided to become involved in local politics, which led me to standing successfully in Brunswick Park in 2022. My own experience shapes what I want to see for the ward and the borough: a vibrant and healthy community where our people and public spaces are cared for.

In my day job I work as a project manager for Transport for London, overseeing station redevelopments. People like me have been making their lives in areas like Brunswick Park for decades. People come to the ward for family homes, green spaces and clean safe streets, and my role as ward councillor is to support that.

If residents have any issues they can always contact me on [email protected] or attend my surgery (next one: 22nd July).

The new Labour administration at Barnet council has also introduced ‘ward walks’ where a group of officers from the council and the police walk around the ward identifying issues. If you are interested in joining the next one please contact me and you can join us to point out any concerns. They work really well as sometimes you can work out a possible solution then and there.

It has been great to get to know the community life of the ward. Although outside Brunswick Park, I know many residents attend St Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church and I’ve truly appreciated being welcomed there to attend a number of services.

The Pymmes Brookers are a very impressive group, with all the work they do to monitor the state of Pymmes Brook and help to keep it in a decent state. This is all in their spare time. What’s all the more impressive is that they operate in a number of wards where the river flows, but on the day when I joined them there were around 20 volunteers, including local scouts.

The state of the river is still a serious concern. The Labour administration has secured agreement from Thames Water to share the ‘misconnections log’ – which shows when faulty plumbing is leading to waste leakage, so that the environmental health team can see if action can be taken. The council is now having regular meetings with Thames Water to see what can be done for rivers like Pymmes Brook. It’s also been very important to represent ward residents regarding the North London Business Park redevelopment, successfully opposing the second more intense proposal and ensuring the impacts of works are minimised.

I’m also very pleased that the council has done a deep clean of all neighbourhoods in the last year and brought back the skip service. There’s more work to do on roads and pavements, and I’ll be asking the administration if there’s more resources to be found.

The administration has a very exciting agenda – from providing more homes in a way that is sympathetic to local areas, to creating a borough of fun and supporting community groups to run their own cultural events. If you have an issue you think I can help with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Paul Lemon is one of three councillors representing Brunswick Park ward, along with Giulia Monasterio and Tony Vourou (also Labour).

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