(Read the manifesto here:)
Launching their 2018 local elections manifesto at the Sheriff Centre in West Hampstead on Tuesday 17 April, Camden Liberal Democrats pledged a borough that is open, vibrant and inclusive. In the manifesto, Lib Dem council candidates promise to listen to residents, stand up for local communities in all parts of the borough,and support the vulnerable so everyone can participate fully in our society. A Lib Dem-run Camden Council will be accountable, safer and greener, and will promote diversity and creativity.
The party’s top five manifesto pledges are:
1) Fund 20 extra PCs and community safety officers to reverse the rise in crime; and bring together youth services and community groups to urgently tackle knife crime which risks the lives of our young people.
2) Improve access to mental health services and work with Camden NHS to fund a local team of specialist community dementia care nurses.
3) Build 700 new zero-carbon social and affordable homes; boost shared ownership options for young people to give them a first step onto the housing ladder; protect private tenants from rogue landlords; and treat council tenants and leaseholders with respect.
4) Reduce air pollution, especially near schools and nurseries; install electric charging points on most roads in the borough; switch to energy-saving street lights; and create 25 new ‘pocket parks’.
5) Review Labour’s inflexible rubbish and recycling policy, hold contractors to account, drop punitive garden waste charges and get tough on fly-tipping.
Camden Liberal Democrats will also continue to fight for an Exit from Brexit, enabling the UK to stay in the European Union (EU). The party will be the strongest voice for Camden’s EU citizens, and seek to protect its other residents from damaging Tory/Labour hard Brexit plans. Unlike any other major party, Camden Liberal Democrats believe the people must have the final say on the final deal with the alternative option being to
remain in the EU.
Other manifesto highlights include:Introducing youth workers into A&E departments to engage with patients attending with stab wounds.
- Tackling the social care funding crisis by increasing council tax in the short term, while calling on Government to raise a penny on the pound in income tax as a longer-term solution.
- Doubling the council tax premium (from 50% to 100%) on homes left empty for over two years.
- Making use of empty council buildings to provide emergency and temporary accommodation to rough sleepers.
- Provide free sanitary towels in schools so that girls can continue their education uninterrupted and with dignity, to end period poverty.
- Planting at least two new trees for every one that needs to be removed.
- Enhancing play facilities for children with disabilities, especially in Camden’s parks.
- Working with schools to develop inclusive, non-proscriptive, gender neutral school uniform policies.
- Promoting and protecting live music, theatres, local community centres, pubs & cafes, including venues that support LGBT+ and BAME communities, and seek the reopening of the Black Cap.
- Establish a ‘technology incubator hub’ to develop relationships and support between large
technology firms, universities and start-ups.
Roger Fox, Chair of Camden Liberal Democrats, said:
“Here in Camden, we pledge that our prospective councillors will make it easier to live as a Londoner, by listening to residents, standing up for local communities in all parts of the borough, and supporting vulnerable people. We will strive for a Camden that is not only safer and greener, but also open, vibrant and inclusive.
“The Liberal Democrats are also the only major party with a clear and unambiguous pro-European platform. These elections are a great opportunity to send a message to both parties that their pro-Brexit stances are not supported in London, with a strong Liberal Democrat vote here in May.”
Camden Liberal Democrats are pleased to announce the party’s full slate of 54 candidates in each of the 18 wards of the Borough of Camden, to give voters the opportunity to elect hard-working, liberal, and genuinely pro-European voices to the council.
The candidates have a mix of experience. Eight current or former councillors are standing again, while almost 40% of the 54 candidates are newer members who have joined the Liberal Democrats since May 2015, bringing new energy and ideas. This strong, diverse group of new candidates has been motivated by the Liberal Democrat revival, with membership having doubled in Camden since 2015, partly based on the party’s robust defence of those who voted to remain in the European Union in the June 2016 referendum. Collectively, the Camden candidates are campaigning for an open, internationalist and collaborative approach to how our borough and country are run.
Candidates hail from a diverse range of backgrounds. They include current council tenants (Jill Fraser, Daviyani Kothari, Mukul Hira), and individuals working in public services, such as Nancy Jirira (nurse), Charlotte Wattebot-O’Brien (doctor), and Tracey Shackle (family learning practitioner).
New candidates include recent graduates (Mark Johnson, Surya Kumaravel, Max Karasinski), as well as Will Coles who is a current PhD student. Some candidates work in business or law in the City of London (Roger Fox, Kushal Bhimjiani, Victor Hjort), others are people running their own businesses (Luisa Porritt, Stephen Crosher, Erich Wagner).
Finally, the eight former or existing councillors who are standing bring substantial experience of local government, including from the period when the Lib Dems ran the council (2006-2010). These former councillors are experienced in the areas of planning, education, waste collection, and health and social care.
Roger Fox, Chair of Camden Liberal Democrats, said:
“I am proud that we are offering all residents across Camden the opportunity to elect Liberal Democrat councillors on 3rd May. All over the borough, our teams offer an invaluable mix of experience and fresh perspectives. They include both former councillors and those who have energetically turned to the Lib Dems more recently, to fight for an open and inclusive society.
“We are united in our aim to offer a strong policy agenda for Camden, that will deliver a borough which is safer, greener and supports inclusivity, diversity and creativity. We will also continue to represent the vast majority of Camden residents who voted to Remain. And we will work to a bring about an Exit from Brexit, by giving electors the chance to send a clear message to the other parties at the ballot box that they are unhappy with the pro-Brexit policies of Labour and the Conservatives.”
This week, members of the Muslim community felt unable to leave their homes in a vile planned attack on their religious freedom and identity.
Here in Belsize, one woman told me last weekend that neither she nor her kids would be leaving the house on 3 April, so called 'Punish a Muslim Day', after a letter was circulated promising rewards to those who carried out physical attacks or verbal abuses towards Muslims.
On the day, I went to visit the same lady and she was afraid to open the door until she knew who it was. When we spoke, she was visibly upset as she said she had heard reports of Muslims she knew being targeted. And indeed, her kids had stayed at home with her.
She wasn't the only one who felt afraid. Other Muslims living in the same building were not opening their doors as our team went round knocking on them.
This appalling Islamophobia has no place in a liberal, tolerant, open society.
We firmly believe Camden, which is many ways a microcosm of London and the country at large, is all the better for its diversity.
If you agree, please do what you can to make your neighbours, local business owners, and public servants from the Muslim community feel at home.
For our part, we promise to call out and tackle prejudice whenever and wherever we see it.
Thank you for standing with us against intolerance.
Liberal Democrat candidate for Belsize ward
It’s now a year since Theresa May notified the EU of the UK’s intention to leave and, as things stand, this time next year we will be cast out into the uncertain reality of life outside the world’s most successful trading bloc and peace project. By then many important issues will still need to be negotiated. We won’t know what Brexit really means but it will be too late to change our minds.
Last week, we were shocked to learn of yet another attack
on one of Belsize's beloved bakeries, Roni's Bagel Bakery. In the space of a week, the glass window of the bakery was smashed twice. The first incident
, on 9 March, also resulted in the shop's drain being blocked with cement and the water mains valve vandalised. The second, on 15 March, saw a table damaged as well. Cumulatively, the owner has said repairs could cost up to £30,000, putting aside the impact on his business's revenues.
He has also spoken of feeling vulnerable at a time when our community police are under substantial pressure due to lack of resources. Customers of Roni's have said that they fear the attacks may have been anti-Semitic.
The Liberal Democrats will always stand up for and protect minority groups. We believe our society is made richer by its diversity. We promise to protect residents by having a more visible poli
ce presence on our streets to deter all types of crime, including apparent targeted hate crimes. Local residents and business owners should never feel ostracised or unsafe. That's why we are pledging to fund 20 new PCs and community safety officers across Camden, to boost the number of officers in every part of the borough.
Let's keep Camden open, tolerant and united!
Belsize Lib Dem Candidate
This week a big issue has come to light for residents of the Chalcots Estate, who are still experiencing disruption following evacuation and cladding works. The Belsize Liberal Democrat candidates have written to the local papers calling on Labour-run Camden Council to reverse their decision and consult residents properly. You can see what we’ve written below. If you’d like to know more about the plans, please email us on: [email protected]
Camden Council must consult residents on replacement of Chalcots windows
'Labour-run Camden Council’s plan to replace all the windows on the Chalcots Estate without consulting residents is breathtaking for its arrogance and muddled thinking. The plan isn’t about just replacing the glass, but removing the window systems, stripping back to the bare concrete and starting again. This would be a further huge intrusion into the lives of Chalcots residents, greater than anything since the evacuation. And the current windows still have 20 years left of their expected life span.
Last year’s decision to replace the cladding was made because the towers were clad in the same flammable material as Grenfell; this was a very good reason to undertake a major project. The residents were consulted and given different options to consider. Replacing the windows would be a significantly more intrusive project and yet there has been zero consultation, with the final decision to be made by the Camden Cabinet on 21 March. The cost of this work alone is likely to be £30 million.
The reasons given by the Council – safety concerns, better insulation, tidying the warranty arrangements – have some merit, but do not mean that the wishes of the many hundreds of people living in the towers can be ignored. It would be entirely wrong to proceed with this project without a proper consultation process. We call on the Labour Council to back off. We demand that they show some respect to the people who live on the Chalcots and find out what they think first instead of rushing ahead with this project.'
We will continue to listen to residents and work for them on this issue to challenge the Labour-run council.
Tom Simon, Luisa Porritt, Ben Newman,
Your Lib Dem Team for Belsize.
London’s local elections in May give you the chance to have your say on Brexit, and on what matters to you locally.
The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a clear, united policy to fight a hard Brexit.
Camden is a great place to live, but it could be better.
On housing, crime, and rubbish and recycling, the Labour Council just isn’t delivering.
Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners work hard all year round. Cllr Flick Rea got the garden waste charge reduced for elderly residents. Stephen Crosher and Jill Fraser have been campaigning for fresh ideas for Queen’s Crescent Market. Tom Simon has been keeping his neighbours in touch on the Chalcots estate in Belsize Park.
We want Camden to be a council that listens to its residents, and we are starting now by asking you for your priorities.
Please fill in this survey and post it back, or fill it in online at www.camdenlibdems.org.uk/priorities.
The regeneration of Queen’s Crescent Market has been a priority for Camden Liberal Democrats for many years. A call for fresh ideas and fresh investment was at the heart of their commitments to the community for the two council by-elections in Gospel Oak ward in 2017.
This pressure and that from many local activists over decades, such as Mick Farrant, Jill Fraser, Sian Berry and many others has now achieved £1.1m of funding support from the Mayor of London’s Growth Fund.
Local campaigner and Gospel Oak ward candidate Matthew Kirk said,
"We welcome this much needed investment. There are local organisations who know how to make a success of this market, as they did before the management of the market was taken out of their hands by the Council. We now urge the Council to empower these local organisations and pass the funding to them to move quickly to reclaim the market as a centre for Gospel Oak."
"The Liberal Democrats, as the resurgent opposition party in Camden, are showing what can be achieved when Council rhetoric is challenged by a strong opposition that both holds them to account and applies pressure on behalf of local communities."
"In the elections in May the Liberal Democrats will be making the case that any council that is dominated by a single party becomes stale and takes local people for granted. Only a strong opposition can force the Labour council to do more for local communities."
Long term local residents Adrian Bridge and Tracey Shackle have joined Cllr Flick Rea in fighting for the interests of everyone in the area.
Adrian has lived in Fortune Green since 1999 and has brought up his two children here. A journalist by profession, he is campaigning for better funded schools, community policing, and affordable housing.
Tracey is a teacher and local mum who has lived in NW6 for 25 years. She volunteers for Friends of Maygrove Peace Park and is passionate about improving facilities & services in our area.
Flick said, “I am happy to be putting myself forward to serve our community once again, if you’re happy with me.”
“I am also delighted to be joined by two very hard working local residents who, like me, want to see Fortune Green be the best it can be.”
We were pleased to welcome Sir Nick Clegg to Camden earlier this week after hearing him speak to a packed audience as part of the Open Britain campaign.
The former Deputy Prime Minister spoke passionately about the shared ideas and values that are the foundation of the European Union. A union that began in the wake of two destructive world wars, with European countries closely working together so that future conflict would be unthinkable.
He talked about the 'visceral rage' he feels at the betrayal of the young people of this country who will have to live with the damaging consequences of the decision to leave - a decision that was based upon lies about everything that Brexit would bring.
"A democracy without accountability is not a democracy"
Sir Nick rejected the suggestion that to keep fighting to remain in the EU is in any way undemocratic. Democracy did not end on 23rd June 2016.
He emphasised the importance of the role of MPs. Only they can begin the reversal of Brexit. He told us that MPs will be duty bound to hold the Government to account when it fails to deliver on anything that was promised. He urged us all to contact our MPs and let them know why they should withhold their consent to proceed with Brexit when Parliament votes later this year.
Fixing the NHS
He also reminded us that, if Brexit goes ahead, the damage done to the economy will mean that we cannot fix the NHS. He described Labour’s endorsement of a Conservative hard Brexit as "the greatest act of betrayal of progressive politics for 100 years."
There’s no escaping the reality that Brexit will mean our country will become poorer, austerity will have to continue and vital workers will leave. The Brexiteers' tactic has been to accuse the economic experts of bias, rather than to point to any credible evidence that supports their view that we would have a stronger economy outside the EU.
Over the past few days, we’ve heard Jeremy Corbyn speak out in favour of better funding for the NHS. Undoubtedly a good cause and the reason why the Lib Dems have argued for a penny on income tax to fund our health service. But Labour’s support for leaving the Single Market and Customs Union is incompatible with a properly funded NHS.