Thursday, 15 May 2014

Peray Ahmet – building bridges among Haringey’s diverse communities

L-R: Peray Ahmet with Diane Abbott MP, Catherine West & Kate Osamor

Our final interview in T-VINE’s series on the next generation of British Turkish politicians is with Peray Ahmet, a Labour councillor candidate in the London Borough of Haringey. As friends and family will testify, she is passionate about fighting for social justice and equality, and feels she is at a stage in life where she wants to give back to her local community.

1. Which wards are you nominated to contest?
Noel Park (Wood Green) in the London Borough of Harringay.

2. Describe the selection process: how many people were you up against?
You apply and then get interviewed by a panel of external people (Labour councillors from other boroughs). You then apply to the wards you are interested in by expressing an interest. If you are shortlisted by members of the ward you have to attend a selection meeting. At the meeting all short listed candidates give a speech and answer questions, after which point the members vote for the three people they want to see as their councillor candidates.

For my ward in Noel Park, there were 23 members present at the selection meeting. 13 potential candidates were short listed of which three of us were chosen.

3. What is your current job or profession?
I currently work in local government in the area of commissioning and procurement.

4. Why Labour? What motivated you to get so active in local politics?
Labour is my natural home. Ideals of social justice and equality as well as a track record of tackling social and class divisions – both locally and nationally. I got involved because I believe I am at a stage in life where I have something to offer, both with regards to my personal commitment and my skills and knowledge gained from many years in local government.

Fighting to defeat the Coalition government is also high on my list of reasons. We have seen living standards drop considerably and I for one want to play my part to bring about an end to this.

5. What happens between now & the local elections?
We campaign hard. We meet with all the relevant organisations in our local areas and we ensure that we get to know our residents and listen to what they expect from us as elected members. We work on specific campaigns such as the 'cost of living crisis' and 'betting shop proliferation'. Linking in with local residents associations, the local police etc is vital.

6. What can British Turks in your wards expect from you?

They can expect me and my Noel Park team to work hard to take their concerns on board. Issues that British Turks have will be similar to those of other groups and we must be absolutely clear on this point. In Haringey we have a strong tradition of working together as communities. We have Greek Cypriot and Kurdish candidates and existing councillors who we are working closely with. My role will not be to be divisive but to look to build bridges where possible.

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