Listening to local people

Enfield’s first-ever Green Party councillor says he wants to do local politics differently

Charith Gunawardena
Charith Gunawardena was elected as a Labour councillor for Southgate in 2018 but switched his allegiance to the Greens earlier this year

There are a number of local issues that councillors across all political parties agree on and want to solve.

Circular political arguments on their causes, whether it is central government funding cuts or the incompetence of the elected local administration, have not brought the improvements local residents expect in their communities. I therefore believe it is time to reduce unproductive political debates, enhance cross party co-operation, and make a real difference to local communities by strengthening local democracy.

Enfield’s major challenges can only be addressed by conducting local politics very differently from how it is done today. Enfield Council’s decision-makers should be open to policy proposals from any stakeholder that can deliver the best overall outcomes for local people and the environment.

Residents and businesses in Southgate ward continue to raise concerns about the deteriorating street scene in the ward; perceived levels of crime; increased traffic congestion at Southgate Circus; high levels of fly-tipping and litter; overgrown weeds; the poor state of local roads; overflowing waste bins; incineration of recyclable waste; and unaffordable housing – to name a few!

I am fortunate to have gained support from the other ward councillors to facilitate the efforts of local community groups to create a cleaner, safer, greener Southgate – an initiative that is a work in progress.

I have started a local survey, to better understand the consequences of the Fox Lane low-traffic-neighbourhood (LTN) and its contribution to traffic congestion at Southgate Circus. Whether the scheme provides measurable reductions to people’s carbon footprints, and whether it does this in a socially just way, are also questions being assessed.

Enfield’s draft Local Plan and the government’s reforms to the planning system will have large-scale ramifications to the character of Southgate in years to come. Local community groups have great knowledge and insights about their neighbourhoods; gaining the trust and support of local residents is essential for successful policy development and implementation.

I joined the Green Party to give myself the opportunity to do politics differently, by placing the local community at the heart of my efforts and only supporting political decisions that are in the best interest of all local people and the environment. As a Southgate resident of 26 years, I will ensure that the voice of the local community is clearly heard.

Charith Gunawardena (a Green Party member of the Community First grouping on the council) represents Southgate alongside Derek Levy (an independent member of Community First) and Stephanos Ioannou (Conservative):
Call 07971 672 619
Email [email protected]