Ich Bin Kentishtowner: Nasim Ali, Councillor

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“My worst experience was facing the charge of the police horses as a protestor during the poll tax riots, when hundreds of innocent people were hurt.”

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I cherish the moment I met Nelson Mandela. What an amazing man. Photo: Chris Jepson
‘I cherish the moment I met Nelson Mandela. What an amazing man.’ Photo: Chris Jepson
Councillor Nasim Ali OBE became mayor of Camden at 34, making all kinds of history in the process. He was the youngest mayor in the country, as well as the UK’s first Bangladeshi and first Muslim mayor too. That experience lead to a stint as leader of Camden Council, where Nash (as he’s also known) is currently the Cabinet member for young people, as well as Executive Director of the King’ Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Association charity, work which saw him make the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in 2011. He’s represented Regent’s Park ward for over a decade, with a particular focus on diverting the area’s young people away from crime and conflict. He lives in West Kentish Town.

When were you happiest?
Now. I am a very lucky person with a loving wife and three very healthy, gorgeous boys.

Where would you like to live?
Anywhere in Camden really. I love it here because of the rich social mix and we are all within walking distance of Hampstead Heath, Regent’s Park, London Zoo and Camden Lock.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
I love the smell of my mum’s curry. It tastes amazing as well and I miss it as soon as I go on holiday.

The victorious Labour council of 2010
The victorious Labour council of 2010

What is your greatest achievement?
Leading Camden Council to victory in the 2010 local council elections, defeating the Lib-Dem/Tory coalition in Camden. Unfortunately the celebrations were short lived as Labour was soon to be defeated at the general elections and we were faced with the devastating ConDem government. Hopefully 2015 will see Labour defeat the coalition government just as we did in Camden in 2010.

What is your earliest K-Town memory?
I used to work in a clothing store on Kentish Town Road, I think it was where the Wine Cellar is now. My manager there was an amazing person who saw the potential in me to achieve more and proved to be a huge support in furthering my eventual political career.

What makes you unhappy?
The increase in street begging and people sleeping rough makes me feel very unhappy.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I really don’t like being late and those around me say I can sometimes get – how shall we put it? – ‘agitated’ if I find myself running late.

What is your guilty pleasure?
I like visiting the food stalls in Camden Lock Market. As long as I can go for a long walk in Regent’s Park with the family afterwards, I can almost justify eating all that cake.

Where do you hang out?
I love going for a curry at the restaurants on Drummond Street, near where I grew up. And these days I’m often found tucking in to a Rajasthan Laal Maas, a very spicy lamb dish at the award winning Namaste Kitchen on Parkway.

Nasim as Mayor with Nelson Mandela
Nasim as Mayor with Nelson Mandela

Who or what do you hate and why?
I hate racists, sexists and homophobes. I also have a dislike for the coalition government who are blaming the most disadvantaged people in society for the failure of their poor policies.

What’s been your best experience? And worst?
My best experience has been having three sons, two of whom were born in the Royal Free hospital and one rather unexpectedly at home! I also cherish the moment when I met Nelson Mandela (pictured). What an amazing man. The worst experience was facing the charge of the police horses as a protestor during the poll tax riots, when hundreds of innocent people were hurt.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
When I was young I used to be wary of my slimness but now I rather like it, although my boys tell me I have a pot belly.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“Go back home”, but that was 25 years ago.

Tell us a secret.
As a child I was almost arrested for picking apples in Regent’s Park.

Describe yourself as an animal.
It would have to be a Bengal Tiger, generally very calm but fierce under attack.

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