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Northwood Hills 'stake-holders' vow to improve town's future with action plan
"NORTHWOOD Hills doesn't exist anymore and has been sandwiched between Northwood, Ruislip, Eastcote and Pinner."
This is the picture painted by people in the town, who are fed up with it being referred to as 'a dump'.
About 75 people with a stake in the community gathered to discuss an action plan to boost the profile of Northwood Hills and make it a more attractive place to live, work and visit.
Residents and business owners, together with representatives from local schools, police, religious groups, volunteers, health services and Hillingdon Council, attended the meeting at Fairfield Church last Wednesday (4).
It was a joint initiative by the Northwood Hills Residents Association (NHRA) and Northwood Hills Chamber of Commerce, backed by Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner MP, Nick Hurd.
NHRA chairman, Andrew Riley, said: "Many people share the same concerns - it seems Northwood Hills simply doesn't exist, no one knows where we are.
"The post office doesn't recognise the town and we are often referred to as being in Northwood or Eastcote.
"We hope this meeting will act as the foundation stone to build the community and move forward."
The debate considered the town's assets and the challenges it faces, before people suggested creative ideas for projects in which the community can work together.
Positive aspects included schools, churches, and the 100-year-old Joel Street allotments, hailed as a hidden asset.
But community spirit is undoubtedly the jewel in the town's crown.
Business owner, Shanti Panchani, said: "We love this place and if we didn't we would go somewhere else. The biggest asset is us."
Ridding the town of the stigma of being 'a dump' was identified as a key challenge, to be remedied through increased communication, in particular engaging with young people about local events.
A 'Welcome to Northwood Hills' sign was also suggested to improve the town's appearance.
Other issues included problems with parking, litter and dog fouling, as well as the absence of a bank or supermarket and inadequate transport to Hillingdon Hospital.
Participants agreed Northwood Hills needed a 'brand identity' to ensure it was not just seen as a 'place in the middle of everything'.
Using online social networking tools including Facebook will be an early step forward, to promote links with local community groups.
More street events will also be planned in the hope of bringing new faces to the town.
There was also talk of turning the library, which is currently undergoing refurbishment, into a 'central hub' with extended services including author readings.
Participants have vowed to reconvene and set up a forum to realise their ideas.
Nick Hurd added: "This meeting was much better than I expected with a fascinating mix of people.
"I want to be part of this and help make a difference in Northwood Hills, particularly practical things that don't necessarily require council or government assistance.
"We can do this if people have the desire and the will."
What do you think? Email Gazette reporter Siba Matti at email@example.com or post a comment below.
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