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East India & Lansbury’s Muhammad Mustaquim Whitechapel’s Nadia Haque and Shamsuddin Ahmed Millwall’s Lorraine Cavanagh and Mafijur Rab Rashid, Mark Taylor and Melissa Patrick St Dunstan’s & Stepney Green representatives Nafisa Adam and Muhammad Shamim presented certificates to the co-ordinators. He said this week he was impressed at seeing them making such strong progress. “We put this programme together because we wanted to empower local people to make a real difference to where they live, and it’s wonderful to see how every community in the borough has embraced it,” he said. “I am delighted to see so many great ideas coming out of these first forum meetings. I am confident that, thanks to the hard work and energy of the local people involved, these community ward forums will make Tower Hamlets a better place. “They have already helped bring communities closer together, and I look forward to seeing some of the ideas becoming a reality.” The forums have also served to unite communities, certainly if the experience of St Katharine’s & Wapping is anything to go by. One of the ward’s three co-ordinators, Christine Trumper, said: “This particular community scheme has brought everybody in the community together, including people that wouldn’t usually be in the same room. Mile End East representatives James Olanipekun, Steve Bethnal Green South representatives Anwara Begum, Sonia Sultana, Abul Kasam and Abul Monsur The top priorities of each ward, listed in order of priority: Bethnal Green North – environment, health, meeting place Bethnal Green South – youth, crime, obesity Blackwall & Cubitt Town – public events re Isle of Dogs development, support for third sector groups, bringing the community together Bow East – Timebank, young people facilities, activities for elderly people Bow West – community, youth “Not only that, they championed the process and procedures and came out with a smile on their face. We all felt engaged and a part of it and as if we had made a contribution.” Ms Trumper added: “Sometimes you can’t always predict how people are going to respond or how people are going to feel but I engagement, street en Bromley-by-Bow – co youth provisions East India & Lansbu youth, disability Limehouse – commu Pennyfield security, jo younger people event Mile End & Globe To education, small scale festivals, park user gro Mile End East – facili children aged 12-18 Millwall – communit green space, youth act have to say this has been a very positive experience so far for the community. “Hopefully this will have a ripple effect through the community to spread to other things going on locally.” The forum in St Katharine’s & Wapping has prioritised activities and clubs, parks and A community festival, a new children’s play area and computer classes – these are just some of the projects that could soon be getting off the ground thanks to a recently launched council scheme giving local people the power to help shape their communities. Ian Read reports. Photos by Rejan Jamil. Power to the people THROUGH the mayor’s community ward forums, the council has put residents in charge of deciding how to spend a total of £170,000 on improving communities across the borough. Each of the 17 wards has its own forum, run by residents, and £10,000 to spend on improving the local area. During December each of the forums held its first meeting, at which residents decided what the top priorities were in their area. Interest in the initiative has been impressive so far, with every forum reporting healthy attendances. The forums have come up with a range of ideas for initiatives and events that would help them achieve some of these priorities. Ideas include healthy food awards for restaurants, planting fruit trees, on-street cycle storage, local information points, popup smoothie bars, creating music facilities and setting up art classes. The forums are being supported by community champion co-ordinators, local people who have volunteered to lead the process (some of whom are pictured). The council is stressing that the co-ordinators are only responsible for the forums – other local issues should be directed through ward councillors as usual. In November Mayor Lutfur Rahman formally launched the ward forums and (Below) Bethnal Green North representative Lyn Prendergast 18 NEWS FROM TOWER HAMLETS COUNCIL AND YOUR COMMUNITY 27 JANUARY – 2 FEBRUARY 2014


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