Council cabinet welcomed back from summer break with peach-ful celebration
PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 September 2019
Hundreds of peaches - and a peach cake - were presented to Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz to welcome her back from the summer recess last week.
The gifts were part of a peach-ful demonstration - which also featured themed outfits and songs - by more than 75 members of a community advocacy group outside town hall on Tuesday, September 3 before the council cabinet meeting.
People's Empowerment Alliance for Custom House (Peach) members highlighted the work it is doing in the neighbourhood, celebrated its achievements - including securing rent cuts for hundreds of temporary housing tenants - and sought recognition of the value of community organisations.
Carmeletta Subryan, who led the action, said: "We came together as a big family to celebrate our community and get our message to the mayor and her cabinet that we would like to work with them for the betterment of the community - and for us to be listened to, respected and acknowledged.
"Sometimes Peach is treated with suspicion or misunderstood, sometimes we feel as if we are knocking at the door waiting to be let in."
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She added that members often feel like their community doesn't matter or has been forgotten, and they want to work more closely with councillors.
Temporary housing tenant Suleuica Lerebours said: "After fighting for years and working with the council, my rent is going down by £2,400 a year.
"Every mum will appreciate what that means at the start of a school year."
Each of the nearly 250 peaches presented to Cllr Fiaz carried a name tag representing a different Peach member, with more members' names on the boxes.
During her opening address at the cabinet meeting, Cllr Fiaz said: "Over the past five years (Peach) have been advancing the call for residents to be involved in more aspects of decision making relating to the Custom House ward.
"I feel proud and privileged to have been a ward councillor in Custom House, helping and aiding their involvement with the council.
"Since I was elected in May 2018, the work with Peach in Custom House, particularly in relation the regeneration that is under way in the area, has very much accelerated and it is illustrative of the new way of working as a council with our residents."