A bizarre letter from Lib Dem Tom Simon was published in the Ham & High last week, making a party-political attack on local Conservative councillors for supposedly not supporting the garden outside the Royal Free.

We are proud of the volunteers at the garden on Pond Street. We’ve supported it many times, including working with Camden and the Royal Free and volunteering ourselves. We could hardly have been more involved – yet have not seen Tom Simon getting his hands dirty himself. Funny, isn’t it?

Below is a rebuttal that I co-authored, published in this week’s Ham & High:

As local councillors for Hampstead Town and Belsize, we were surprised to see the Lib Dems use the Royal Free gardening project to launch a party-political attack on us in last week’s letters page.

The restoration of the garden is a community project that we all love: beautifying Pond Street and creating a continuous green belt from Hampstead Heath to Haverstock Hill. We are hugely appreciative of all the hard work put in by Linda, Malcolm, Charlotte, Adriana, and everyone else involved – it’s people like them that make our community as strong and welcoming as it is.

That’s why we’ve all rolled up our own sleeves and supported the project ourselves: both by liaising with the hospital and Camden Council and by getting stuck in by actually gardening ourselves.

Cllr Leila Roy’s son can regularly be seen on Saturdays fundraising for the garden in his hospital volunteer t-shirt. Cllr Oliver Cooper has spent several Saturday mornings gardening and litter-picking with the volunteers.

Meanwhile, Cllr Stephen Stark has worked behind the scenes with Camden Council and the Royal Free and with monthly meetings. All local Conservative councillors are also promoting the use of local CIL money for the initiative. We haven’t seen Tom Simon help, but if he’d like to, he’d be more than welcome.

All three of us are local residents and local activists as well as local councillors – we get involved and help for the love of our community, not for political gain. As such, we did not want to use our involvement with this community project to score political points, and thought the Lib Dems would be above attacking us simply because we choose not to toot our own horns as much as they do.

As local Conservative councillors, we are dedicated to supporting the gardening projects both at the Royal Free Hospital and on Haverstock Hill, as we are community groups across NW3. These are voluntary community projects and we wish them to stay community projects rather than pawns in a political game.

To that end, we would like to remind people that the volunteers are raising money for plants and you can donate at www.bit.ly/FundTheRoyalFreeGarden.

Cllr Leila Roy
Cllr Stephen Stark
Cllr Oliver Cooper

Conservative councillors for Hampstead Town and Belsize

For more about my campaign for a greener Hampstead, click here.