QPCC Co-opts a New Coucnillor

Due to persistent absence, a member of the Community Council was automatically disqualified this September, per Local Government Act 1972, section 85(1) and (2). As part of the process outlined in legislation, QPCC issued a Notice of Casual Vacancy on 21st September. This Notice, required under section 87 of the Local Government Act 1972, notified the community of the fourteen-day window during which a petition signed by at least ten registered electors would trigger a by-election to fill the vacancy.

By the expiration of the window on Wednesday, 11th October, no residents had issued a petition for a by-election so the Council issued another notice inviting residents to put themselves forward to be co-opted to the Council. Three candidates put themselves forward by the deadline, and an extraordinary meeting of the Council was called on Wednesday, 15th November, for the co-option to take place. The meeting included standard agenda items like issuing apologies for absence, declaring an interest, and approving the previous meeting minutes. Afterwards, the Council voted to agree on how the co-option would occur.

The agreed process saw the Proper Officer toss a coin to determine the order in which candidates would speak. Each candidate spoke for three minutes and then answered questions from the Council for another three minutes.

Once all candidates spoke, the Council asked candidates and members of the public to leave the room to allow for confidential discussion. Eight of the Council’s then eleven Councillors were in attendance at the meeting, and engaged in the debate about which candidate would best represent residents’ interests and support the Council’s ambition to improve the health, well-being and quality of life of all Queen’s Park Residents.

After their discussion, the Councillors voted privately by giving their ballots to the Proper Officer to count. The results were then announced, with Shifaa Ali receiving five of eight votes. A second vote by show of hand was then undertaken to ratify the vote and approve the decision to co-opt Shifaa Ali to the Council.

Candidates were then invited back into the room, each were thanks for their participation in the process and encouraged to continue engaging with the Council before the decision was publicly announced.

Councillor Ali, officially accepted the role by signing a Declaration of Acceptance of Office.

Meet Councillor Ali 

I am excited to have been co-opted as the newest Queen’s Park Community Councillor.

I put forth my candidacy for the role with a vision to enhance the well-being and inclusivity of our local communities. My extensive residency spanning over three decades in Westminster, encompassing various wards such as Victoria, Churchill Gardens, Ebury Bridge, Church Street, and Westbourne Park, has given me a deep-rooted understanding of our diverse and vibrant community. Through my professional networking and voluntary work, I’ve also developed strong ties withlocal community organisations that will be pivotal in addressing local concerns.

One of the unique aspects of my background is my identity as a Bangladeshi (Sylheti) Muslim woman and the parent of 2 young teenagers. These characteristics enable me to connect with and represent many of our residents with similar identities which is crucial to bridging gaps and boosting engagement. Given the demographic makeup of Queen’s Park, with a substantial percentage of Arabic-speaking, Muslim, and South Asian heritage residents, I am committed to tackling existing inequalities, particularly among Bangladeshi women who often experience deprivation in areas such as literacy and health.

Growing up in Westminster, I’ve experienced some of the challenges and deprivation young people face. Over the years, I’ve witnessed positive changes in the community. However, there’s still work to do, particularly regarding Mental Health – a growing concern for our residents.

With over a decade of experience in the Mental Health field, I’ve occupied various roles such as Mental Health Practitioner, Independent Mental Health Advocate, Psychotherapist, and Bilingual Counsellor, catering to diverse client groups across different settings.

Mental Health is a universal concern that affects individuals regardless of their backgrounds. Still, it’s essential to recognise that South Asian immigrant women often face cultural stigmas and fear of judgment, hindering them from seeking help. My professional expertise equips me to offer valuable insights into the impact of Mental Health issues, preventive measures, and support for those struggling. I understand that Mental Health concerns can have cascading effects on various aspects of life, including relationships, social isolation, and employment.

As a Councillor, I will propose a series of initiatives to enhance the work of QPCC, including Mental Health awareness workshops, English language and employability skills support, cooking sessions, women-only exercise opportunities, and more.