The Camden New Journal and Ham & High published the below letter from me about Camden’s rank failure to grit the streets in the face of unanimous forecasts of snow: leading to gridlock on Hampstead High Street, Arkwright Road, and elsewhere.
I was pleased to see Camden Council propose renewing its 100% reduction in Council Tax for low-income households. I supported this on behalf of Conservative councillors at last week’s Cabinet meeting as an excellent means to assist so many of our worst-off families.
My applause for this is unsurprising, as the policy was first proposed by my Conservative colleague Cllr Don Williams of Swiss Cottage three years ago: an idea opposed by the Labour administration for two years before they finally and belatedly adopted it.
As the Cabinet member for finance said, “success has a thousand fathers” and my applause go to him and his predecessor as well, but Cllr Williams’s fingerprints were definitely on this policy: exempting 11,000 Camden residents from Council Tax and reducing the maddening bureaucracy of chasing people through the courts to collect arrears that can be unaffordable to low-income families, but are small to Camden.
My interest was further piqued when the Cabinet member for finance was asked by one of his colleagues how many other London councils were doing the same. He didn’t have the figures to hand, but Conservative-majority London boroughs are over twice as likely as Labour-majority boroughs to exempt low-income households from Council Tax.
As opposition councillors, we’re always glad to see Camden’s administration adopt Conservative ideas (albeit two years later than they could have and four years after Westminster!). This shows the real value of a strong opposition in Camden and the benefits of Conservative ideas being put into practice to benefit ordinary residents.