2022 Manifesto

Camden Liberal Democrats - Listening & Responding to Residents' Priorities

 

On 5 May 2022, local people can demand better for Camden. Labour isn’t listening to residents – there’s rubbish on our streets, housing in disrepair and too little action on climate change. And Boris Johnson’s Conservatives don’t deserve your vote.

A Liberal Democrat council would start by overhauling Labour’s failing waste contract, which is leaving our high streets covered in bin bags and our residential streets strewn with litter. Camden is the most fly-tipped council in the country. Keeping the streets clean is a fundamental responsibility of a local council and Camden Labour is failing us.

We would make ending homelessness a priority right across the Council. Homelessness is increasing in Camden, while falling across London. We would also take immediate action to change the way housing repairs are managed. Too many of our borough’s vulnerable tenants are waiting weeks and months for basic repairs, living in damp or unsafe flats. Camden is a rich borough, and everyone deserves a decent home.

Climate change, the cost of living, loneliness and isolation are the key challenges facing all of us. A Liberal Democrat council would engage our communities, businesses, and voluntary and community sector in finding local, practical solutions. For example, working with local organisations to identify secure bike storage, ensuring financial advice is accessible in every neighbourhood, and ensuring both young and old have a say in Camden’s future.

A Liberal Democrat Camden would listen to residents and put your priorities first.

Liberal Democrat councillors are rooted in their communities and work hard all year round. They speak up for you – they don’t toe the Town Hall line. They take up your issues week in, week out – not just at election time. 

Vote Liberal Democrat on 5th May for a council that listens and responds.

Matthew Kirk - signature

Matthew Kirk
Chair, Camden Liberal Democrats

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Tackle the climate emergency and the cost-of-living crisis

 

A Liberal Democrat Camden would: engage our communities in tackling climate change in their area, plant 800 new trees per year, install more Electric Vehicle Charging Points (EVCPs), and make a step-change in insulating homes – reducing carbon emissions and residents’ energy bills at the same time.

Climate change is the existential issue of our time. Local councils have a role to play in enabling residents to make practical changes to reduce our carbon footprint and our use of plastics, and to encourage bio-diversity. Camden’s Labour Council has declared a Climate Emergency, but has been slow to make change. Steps such as support for insulation and energy efficiency, are also critical in helping Camden’s families manage the cost-of-living crisis.  

A Liberal Democrat Camden would:

  • Plant 800 new trees per year and ensure that significant developments, such as the O2 centre redevelopment, include significant areas of green open space
  • Make it a priority to expand the Council’s Housing Renewal Assistance Policy for insulating and improving energy efficiency in Camden homes – reducing carbon emissions and fuel bills at the same time
  • Establish a fund to enable communities and voluntary organisations to plan and deliver local actions to tackle climate change; open up the Camden Climate Citizen Panel and ask councillors to be leaders in engaging their communities to make local change
  • Engage all Camden schools in reducing school-run traffic, encouraging “walking buses”, safe cycle and bus routes and “school streets” to tackle air pollution near schools
  • Work creatively with businesses, housing associations and other organisations to find safe storage bike spaces across the borough, as well as funding the installation of extra on-street cycle hangars
  • Install additional electric vehicle charging points, with the aim that every home in Camden is no more than 200 metres from an EVCP
  • Fully divest Camden’s pension fund from fossil fuels, ending all direct or indirect investments in fossil fuels by 2025. Liberal Democrat councillors called for this in 2019, but it was rejected by the Labour Council.
  • Support Camden’s voluntary and community sector to provide accessible advice and support to households worrying about the cost of living – including phone, online and face-to-face. We would work in particular with organisations supporting carers, who often don’t get the benefits they are entitled to, or the support that they need.

 

Clean up our borough’s streets

 

A Liberal Democrat Camden would: review Labour’s failing waste contract, which is leaving our high streets covered in bin bags and our residential streets strewn with litter.

 

Rubbish and recycling is the issue most often raised with us on the doorstep. Most residents want to recycle more and think that going back to weekly general waste collections would be a step in the wrong direction. Data from DEFRA shows that Camden has the worst record in England for fly-tipping, while recycling rates are falling. Only about one-quarter of Camden’s rubbish is now recycled. But the Labour Council is in denial about the failures of its waste contract with Veolia – they declare it to be “performing well” and refuse to even revisit how it is working.

Our streets are also blighted by clutter on the pavements, which makes it more difficult for everyone, but especially for those with limited mobility, to move around our borough.

A Liberal Democrat Camden would:

  • Overhaul Labour’s failing waste contract, especially its “bin bags on the streets” policy for businesses and flats above shops, and in the meantime, fund additional education and enforcement officers to communicate the existing policy to residents and businesses
  • Improve communications with residents, including the Council’s website, to make it easier for residents to get the right information about rubbish and recycling arrangements and work with estate agents and letting agencies so that new tenants and householders receive the right information
  • Upgrade the arrangements for food waste collection so that more people across the borough can recycle food waste
  • Work to make our streets safe for everyone, especially those with limited mobility, poor eyesight or hearing, by repairing pavements quickly, and keeping them free from motorbikes, e-scooters and cyclists
  • Review and adopt best practice from other London Boroughs to improve the Council’s planning enforcement systems.

 

End homelessness and deliver quality, affordable homes

 

A Liberal Democrat Camden would: Make tackling homelessness a priority right across the council, overhaul the failing housing repairs system and create a fund to support the victims of the Building Safety Crisis in Camden’s private rented sector.

Homelessness in Camden has increased by 7% since 2018, whereas across London it has fallen by 3%. The Labour Council has closed temporary accommodation facilities such as the England’s Lane Residence but hasn’t completed planned new temporary accommodation. On average a homeless person has died nearly every month in Camden Council’s contracted homeless accommodation over the past four years.

The Council is failing as a developer – its Community Investment Programme, trumpeted as a way to build new homes, is only delivering 18.75% as council homes, significantly less than the 30% usually required from developers.

Camden’s housing tenants struggle with a failed repairs system - in 2021 the Housing Ombudsman found Camden to be the third worst social landlord in the country for tackling damp and mould, while leaseholders continue to be hit by high charges.

A Liberal Democrat Camden would:

  • Reverse the cuts made by Labour to Camden’s temporary accommodation and homelessness services and work with the voluntary sector to provide a dedicated youth homelessness provision
  • Engage with the local NHS and voluntary sector to increase the provision of drug and alcohol support to tackle the addiction that underlies so much rough sleeping
  • Commit to including 50% affordable housing in all Camden developments, and push major developers, such as those of the O2 Centre site, to provide 50% affordable housing, of which 60% should be genuinely affordable social rent
  • Overhaul the Council’s failing housing repairs system, especially providing additional support for those unable to use the Council’s online system
  • Set up a dedicated fund to support victims of the Building Safety Crisis in Camden’s private rented sector
  • Take proactive action against negligent and exploitative landlords, especially in the poorest parts of our borough, and work with the voluntary and community sector to ensure advice is readily available to private renters and council leaseholders.

 

Strengthen Camden’s communities and our local democracy

 

A Liberal Democrat Camden would: Work with the police to make our communities safer for everyone. Restore Area Forums to give people more say. Invest in Camden’s community libraries as spaces for the community to come together.

Liberal Democrat Councillors listen to residents’ views about where they feel unsafe and work closely with local Safer Neighbourhood police teams to suggest practical solutions.

Liberal Democrats believe in the power of local communities and the right of people to have their say on decisions that matter to them – and, in particular, to take action to ensure that everyone is included in our society. Loneliness and isolation affect many people, especially older people, in our borough, and we need to harness the power of communities to overcome this.

We must take every opportunity to improve the accessibility of our borough, such as pressing the developers of the O2 Centre development to fund the installation of lifts at nearby tube stations.

A Liberal Democrat Camden would:

  • Work with the police to engage communities in identifying and addressing places where people, especially women and girls, don’t feel safe, including taking stronger action against BT and other phone providers where their phone boxes are contributing to anti-social behaviour.
  • We would continue to tackle hate crime, including antisemitism, Islamophobia, and attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, and work with the police to make addressing violence against women and girls a priority.
  • Continue to support the Freedom Pass and travel discounts for older people which contribute so much to ensuring their independence and inclusion in our society and look to expand intergenerational “good neighbour schemes” to address loneliness and isolation among older people
  • Work with Transport for London to improve the accessibility of public transport across the Borough, including pressing major developers to fund the installation of lifts at tube stations such as West Hampstead & Finchley Road
  • Invest in Camden’s libraries as spaces for the community to come together and work with them, and the voluntary and community sector to increase digital access for everyone
  • Continue to ensure that Camden is a welcoming place for refugees from war and persecution, offering wraparound support to those who have fled from Afghanistan and Ukraine in particular
  • Restore Area Forums – regular community meetings led by local councillors – to engage more people in local issues and empower them to drive council decision-making.

 

Invest in children and young people’s futures

 

A Liberal Democrat Camden would: prioritise youth work across the Borough and reform Camden’s consultation processes so young people always have a voice. Enhance Camden’s play facilities so every child has a local place to play.

 

Children and young people are the future of our community, and our world, yet they are often forgotten in a local democratic system where only those over 18 can vote. The cost of childcare in London contributes to the cost-of-living crisis, and families with children with special educational needs and disabilities continue to struggle to get the support they need.

A Liberal Democrat Camden would:

  • Prioritise youth work across the borough, and reform the Council’s consultation processes to enable young people to have a voice. We would continue to fight to keep free travel for 16-18 year-olds in London.
  • Ensure that major developments included new play spaces for children and safe spaces for young people to gather and socialise, and work with the voluntary and community sector to review the provision of play spaces for children and young people with disabilities – so that every child has a local place to play
  • Continue to support early years education and childcare providers to offer affordable and flexible childcare across the borough
  • Work in partnership with the families of children with special educational needs and disabilities to ensure parents get the advice and support they need throughout their child’s education, and with specialist organisations such as the Care Leaver Covenant to ensure that the Council is doing everything possible to give young people in care the best start in life.

 

Making it happen

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed people’s working patterns and the current model of large, centralised offices needs to be reviewed. In the short-term we know that there is scope to generate income from existing underused buildings across the borough, and review the way the Town Hall uses its assets to create more flexible, efficient ways of working for the future.