Camden fails to take cash to help tackle homelessness

Lib Dems call for real action to bring empty homes back into use.


Over 306 homes in Camden have been sitting empty for more than 2 years, research has revealed.

These figures, uncovered through a Freedom of Information request, show that there are over 887 homes across Camden that have been empty for over six months. Of these, 306 have been empty for two years or more.

Camden Council has to date failed to make use of Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO), powers used by local authorities to take over properties that have been empty for at least six months. This is despite the fact that many local families have spent Christmas without a home.

EDMO powers have been available for use by local authorities in England and Wales since 2006. However, despite rising housing costs, shortages of homes to both rent and buy, and the increasing homelessness, Camden Council have never once opted to use these powers available to them, to help tackle homelessness.

Stephen Crosher, Holborn & St Pancras Parliamentary Spokesperson said:

“At a time when the homelessness crisis is worsening and more and more people are sleeping out in the cold on our streets, it is a scandal that so many homes locally are sitting empty."

“These homes could be turned into affordable places to live for those that need it.

“The Mayor needs to press London councils to use the powers available to them and the Government needs urgently review the current system which is clearly not working. Camden Council needs to act to bring empty homes back into use.”

Luisa Porritt, Belsize Liberal Democrats, added:

"With thousands of Camden's private tenants saying they live in smaller and more expensive housing than they would like due to our shortage of homes, the Labour council's inaction is hurting the very people they claim to want to help.

"It is shameful that Camden Council has failed to use existing powers to end this scandal. Local families have spent Christmas homeless because of Labour’s complacency and their attitude of taking votes for granted.”

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Spotlight on the Sidings


Residents on the Sidings estate have asked local Liberal Democrat councillor Flick Rea for help on issues where the Labour council has failed to take action.

This includes cracks in the paving on the open space behind Hall Oak Walk, lighting being out on Barlow Road, and concerns about parking on the estate.

Tracey Shackle, who lives on the estate, said “Here on Sidings it sometimes feels like we are a long way from the Town Hall and that the Council are not very interested in us - it takes ages to get even the basics like street lights repaired, and there’s just no action on long-standing problems like illegal parking.”

“I’m delighted to be joining hard working Lib Dem councillor Flick Rea as a candidate in May’s council elections, so I can make a difference on Sidings and across Fortune Green.”

Did a second referendum just become a little more likely?


Who would ever thought the day would come when Nigel Farage would be arguing, just like the Lib Dems, for a second referendum on leaving the EU? As much as we vehemently disagree with his politics, there is no denying that he has been a successful advocate for his cause over the years. His announcement may have just been a way of attracting some headlines, but if he did genuinely commit to a second referendum it might just make the likelihood of another vote a little stronger.

Farage’s motivations are obviously very different to those of us who want to remain in the EU. He has floated the idea of a second vote to ‘finish the whole thing off’ by increasing the Brexiteer’s majority. The Lib Dems take a very different position. We don’t want a simple re-run of June 2016. We want voters to have their say on whether to accept whatever deal the government agrees with the EU later this year. This would not be a second referendum on leaving the EU, it would be a first referendum on the deal, with the option to remain once it has become clear what the reality of Brexit really means.

What can I do?

In the meantime, there is much work to be done - a referendum on the deal is the end point. There are lots of things that each individual can do to make a small difference. Those small differences can add together to make a big change. So what can you do to increase the chances of an exit from Brexit?

A second referendum won’t happen unless Parliament is convinced that this is the right way forward. Don’t underestimate the impact that constituents’ views have upon their MPs. So email, write to or - best of all - go and see your MP at one of their surgeries. You can even go along to the Central Lobby of the Houses of Parliament without an appointment and ask whether your MP is available to speak there and then. If they aren’t, they will be told that you made the effort to go and see them.

Tell them what you think about Brexit. Tell them about how it will impact upon you, your family, your friends and your colleagues. Tell them why you want your say on the final deal. It really does work. Ultimately they face losing their job if they vote against the wishes of those who elect them. There are Labour and Conservative MPs who have already defied their party whips to vote on Brexit in accordance with the views that they have heard from their constituents.

You can make a difference just talking to family and friends or by sharing positive articles and posts on social media. As someone heavily involved or interested in politics it is easy to forget that most people don’t have the time to follow the details of the twists and turns in Westminster and Brussels as closely as we might. Talk to them about how Brexit will affect them: the cost of living will go up; jobs will be lost; austerity will inevitably continue into the distant future; and we will lose thousands of essential workers in key industries and services, not least the NHS. Make the positive case for all that is good about the EU - talk about the rights and freedoms we stand to lose if we leave.

If you want to get more actively involved, come and campaign with the Lib Dems. There are local elections taking place in May 2018. What better chance to show the Conservatives and Labour that you cannot support them whilst they work together to bring about a damaging hard Brexit? There is plenty you can do to help, from stuffing envelopes at home, delivering leaflets or to speaking to voters on the doorstep. Get in touch if you want to join in.

Corbyn supports a hard Brexit

If the Labour Party wanted a second referendum it wouldn’t take much pressure from them to make it very likely to happen. Those who voted Labour in June last year believing it was the best way to stop Brexit will be bitterly disappointed as Labour’s pro-Brexit stance becomes more and more apparent.

Recent polls have shown that Labour voters are overwhelmingly in support of remaining in the Single Market. Yet Jeremy Corbyn continues to (wrongly) insist that this is not possible outside the EU and to whip his MPs into supporting a Tory hard Brexit. It won’t be a surprise if Labour’s policy shifts in favour of remain after public opinion clearly moves in favour of a second referendum. That is why it is so important to carry on loudly making the case for remain.

We won’t give up!

One thing that Farage is right about is that those of us who passionately believe in the benefits of remaining in the EU will ‘never ever, ever give up’. The Lib Dems will remain at the forefront of that ongoing battle to stop the catastrophic damage that will be done to our country if we continue on the path towards Brexit.

Former Camden Conservative Leader Joins Lib Dems

Cllr Andrew Marshall, former leader of Camden Conservatives, has joined the Liberal Democrats. Andrew is a long-serving councillor for Swiss Cottage ward and was Deputy Leader of Camden Council from 2006-10.

In making his decision, Andrew highlighted the national Liberal Democrat opposition to Brexit and the potential benefits to Camden from electing a large group of local Lib Dem councillors.

Andrew Marshall said, “I left the Conservative Party after four decades last year - largely, but certainly not only, over Europe. I find that my values are now best reflected in the Liberal Democrats: moderate, inclusive economics to broaden opportunity, reform of our political system, a robust approach to sustainability and an internationalist, pro-European ethos.

“No party has a monopoly of wisdom, and pro-Europeans across all parties need to work closely together. A large cohort of Lib Dem MPs at Westminster would be good news for national policy in so many ways, and a big group of Lib Dem councillors in Camden would galvanise local politics in our borough and improve responsiveness to all our residents.   

“I’ll be standing down as a local councillor after 24 years in May, as I indicated last year, but I’ll be doing my bit to get Liberal Democrats elected in the months and years ahead.”

Camden Lib Dem councillor Flick Rea said, “I'm delighted that Andrew and I will now be Liberal Democrat colleagues on the Council. We've worked together on many issues over the years, including during the successful Lib Dem-Conservative Partnership Administration of 2006-10.

“Like Andrew, the Lib Dems passionately believe that Camden benefits from EU membership. I know that many other liberal minded Camden residents who have previously supported the Conservatives are dismayed by the Government’s hard Brexit agenda. The local elections this May offer an opportunity to register discontent with the country's direction and to promote liberal values by supporting Camden Lib Dem candidates.”

A bad week for Theresa May

It has been a week to forget for Theresa May. The pro-Brexit newspapers might portray the agreement reached with the EU this week as a great victory. But the reality is that the Government has shown itself to be weaker and more clueless than ever.

Held to ransom by the DUP

A deal was all but announced on Monday, only for the rug to be pulled from under the PM’s feet by the DUP, highlighting just what a vulnerable position she is in. Held to ransom by a party that wants the impossible and represents less than 1% of our population.

Non-existent impact assessments

Then we had the extraordinary scene on Tuesday when David Davis was finally forced to admit that all those Brexit impact assessments – setting things out in ‘excruciating detail’ - have never existed! In the middle of all this, it was easy to miss the admission by Philip Hammond that the Cabinet hasn’t yet even discussed the final outcome that they want when we leave the EU. So they don’t know what they want and have no idea how it will affect us if they get it.

In ordinary times any one of these events would have led to resignations and sackings. But we are not living in ordinary times.

Concessions to the EU

Finally, in the early hours of Friday, an agreement was announced on the issues of the exit bill, citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland. This means that they can begin to talk about the really difficult bit: future trade. There’s no getting away from the fact that, despite all the posturing and rhetoric, the Government has had to make huge concessions on the exit bill and EU citizens. The conundrum surrounding Northern Ireland has to a large extent been kicked into the long grass but is not going to go away.

A glimmer of hope

Yet there is a glimmer of hope. There are signs that the Government is backing down on their decision to plough on with a self-harming hard Brexit. One line of the 15-page agreement with the EU says that, “In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with the rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South co-operation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.” That sounds rather like staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union. There’s a long way to go, but it might just be a move in the right direction.

One other event that should not go unnoticed this week was the vote by Parliamentarians for their book of the year. Their choice? ‘How to Stop Brexit’. Perhaps they are trying to send us a message. They know it is bad for the country and now more than ever our representatives across all parties should follow the example of Lib Dem MPs and peers and stand up for what they believe in. As the reality of Brexit becomes clearer it is only right that the people should have a say on the final deal with the chance to vote on whether this is what we really want.

Lib Dems win clean sweep of by-elections

The Liberal Democrats won all four of the council by-elections that were held last night, gaining seats from the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP.

Read more

Budget special - £50billion lost means residents will be £687 a year worse off


New studies show that the UK economy has stalled under the Conservatives.

This Conservative crash will wipe £49bn off the UK economy by 2021. That’s £687 for every person in the UK. Or enough to recruit 69,000 new police officers or 66,000 teachers.

The Conservatives are also putting £3bn aside for ‘problems’ with Brexit.

Despite a combined £52billion black hole the Conservative Government have still found money for extra new tax cuts for the richest.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Flick Rea said, “These are the wrong priorities. Tax cuts for the very richest are not the most important thing when our NHS and schools are in such valuable need of investment and the economy is a mess.”

“The government needs to get a grip on the economy and change its priorities to help normal people in our country”.

"People who need to switch buses should not be penalised" - Caroline Pidgeon

After more than a decade of action, Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon's campaign to secure a "one hour bus ticket" for Londoners has finally been rewarded, with news that an unlimited number of trips will finally be allowed from next year.

Commenting on today’s announcement Caroline said: "For a decade I have campaigned for a 1-hour bus ticket so the introduction at long last of this policy is incredibly welcome.

"People who need to switch buses simply to get from one place to another should not be penalised.   The 1-hour bus ticket is just what London needs.”

Also reacting to news of the introduction of a weekly cap on Oyster sometime in 2018, Caroline Pidgeon said:

“It is grossly unfair that there is a weekly cap on contactless payment but not on Oyster.   Boris Johnson even promised that a cap would be introduced by 2015.  This major anomaly should have been addressed many years ago.”

Happy 10th birthday London Overground and let’s hope you continue to grow in the years ahead – Caroline Pidgeon

Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member, has today congratulated the London Overground on its 10th birthday.

In the last 10 years over one billion customer journeys have been made on London Overground and it has proven to be one of the most reliable train operators in the country.

Commenting on its 10 years of existence Caroline Pidgeon said:

“The London Overground is one of London’s success stories.  Passengers numbers have soared from 33 million in 2008/09 to more than 189 million in 2016/17.

“Its popularity is based on providing a far better train service than most other train operators.

“One very distinctive service it provides is that every station is staffed from the first to very last train every day.  That makes stations safer places for passengers and ensures that a ‘turn up and go’ service can exist for disabled people.

“Yet while today is a day to celebrate we should also recognise that the success of the London Overground could benefit hundreds of thousands more train users.  Devolving more London metro lines to TfL would expand London Overground to the capital and benefit thousands of more passengers.”

Thank You Gospel Oak!


A huge thank you to everyone who voted in the Gospel Oak by-election.

Lib Dem candidate Jill Fraser received a fantastic result, and has shown that the Lib Dems are the real opposition to Labour in Camden.

The full results are:
Labour: 1144, 57.5% (+10.5)
Liberal Democrat: 510, 25.7% (+18.7)
Conservative: 303, 15.3% (-2.4)
English Democrats: 31, 1.6% (+1.6)

Jill said, “Thank you so much to everyone who supported my campaign, knocked on doors, and delivered leaflets. Our result shows that there is demand for a hard-working local champion.”

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