Noel Park councillor and Haringey Council cabinet member Peray Ahmet writes in Haber’s new weekly series
When I first became a councillor in 2014, I worked hard to shift more focus onto Noel Park. Very often we would get lost in council discussions about Crouch End or Tottenham – there was frustration, I felt, about how we would be overlooked. The squeezed middle!
You might think about crime or anti-social behaviour as the biggest issue in the ward but when residents see the blight of fly-tipping on their streets, it’s the issue they raise the most. That’s why I’ve consistently focused on the issue – it also overlaps with my cabinet role.
What we’ve done is introduce a partnership approach between the council, its contractor Veolia and residents. We’ve been trying to send out the message of zero tolerance. There’s a performance indicator that says Veolia must collect any reported fly-tipping within 24 hours.
But it has also been about getting residents to own the issue by saying “actually, you live here, so let’s work together”. And it’s working: we’ve got a new system and the level of people reporting dumped rubbish has increased.
We’ve also been tactical in our approach. For example, we had a problem opposite the local school, Noel Park Primary. We sorted it out by putting up a camera – the fly-tipping problem was resolved there.
Turkish Cypriot cabinet member
I think the representation of Haringey’s diverse population is a positive thing, but there is a danger of tokenism. Representation has to be truly competent – it must not be a tick-box exercise.
I think I was selected to serve in Haringey’s cabinet because of my academic qualifications, my master’s degree and my experience working in local government and not just because I have a Turkish background.
My role gives me responsibility for what you would term “universal services” – it’s not just the bins, but also the roads, parking, and traffic. Having the opportunity to listen to people every day is what is great about my portfolio.
I’m quite proud that somebody like me could get to a role like this. Somebody recently said to me, “you’re part of the establishment” because I’m a politician, but it isn’t as easy as that. I went to Woodside school, I left at 16 with no qualifications, but then I went on to get elected. I now get to represent the area I grew up in.
I think my Mum likes that I’m in charge of something! It’s a very distant prospect for some kids, but I hope that is something that can inspire others.
Click to read from other local politicians in The Community’s Councillors series.
Profile: Peray Ahmet
Noel Park ward
Haringey Cabinet Member for Environment
Born and raised in Wood Green but with Turkish Cypriot heritage, Peray Ahmet studied politics, modern history and human rights at university. Before becoming a Labour councillor for Noel Park ward in 2014, she worked giving advice to unemployed members of the Turkish-speaking communities and was also a commercial and procurement advisor for Merton Council.
Two years after being elected, she became one of Haringey’s senior councillors by being appointed to the cabinet, where she was handed the environment portfolio.