I’m delighted to have last night been elected unopposed as the Leader of the Conservative group on Camden Council – and, as leader of the largest opposition group, Leader of the Opposition in the borough.
Camden’s dynamism, diversity, and pluralism are unrivalled anywhere in the country, but that’s sadly not been the case politically. Under my leadership, Camden Conservatives’ main mission is to stand up for residents and give a voice to anyone that doesn’t want Camden to become a mono-cultural, one-party state.
Half of voters in Camden didn’t vote for Labour. With the Conservatives having twice as many councillors as the other opposition parties, those voters need the Conservatives to stand up for them to hold Labour to account.
Indeed, Labour voters need us to hold the administration to its manifesto promises, too. So many of the promises that Labour made in 2014 were broken – from their infamous promise to retain weekly bin collections to their failure to build the homes Camden needs.
I’ve lived in six wards across Camden, I went to university in Bloomsbury, my dad was born in Kentish Town, and my mum lives in Frognal & Fitzjohn’s. I dearly love ever corner of our borough, and when I see Camden Council not performing as it can do, I know just how much it can hurt ordinary residents. I also know how much councillors can do to help them.
We were disappointed with the election results, but with Labour strengthening their stranglehold on Town Hall, it’s vital that Camden’s Conservative opposition plays a big part in the council. When it’s come to our clear programme for a cleaner, greener, safer Camden, we’ve led and other parties have followed.
Whether it’s Labour reluctantly adopting our policy to put more police on the beat – after they opposed it for seven years – or being dragged kicking and screaming to impose fines on fly-tippers, we have a strong record of changing Camden’s policy from opposition, and we’re not going to let that up.
I’m proud that Camden has one the most liberal and greenest Conservative groups in the country, and I’ll ensure it stays that way. Conservatives will keep pushing for more electric car charging points – as we’ve secured at Hampstead Heath’s car parks – for tougher action on pollution, and for more parks and green spaces.
In recent years, we’ve been unafraid to disagree with the national Conservative Party, from vociferously opposing HS2 to calling for a more liberal stance on refugees to successfully lobbying for the government to drop ‘Pay To Stay’.
But with fewer councillors to challenge Labour, it’s vital for everyone to focus on the day job of improving the services that Camden delivers to residents. Camden can’t afford a part-time administration, and Camden Conservatives will hold Labour to account and make sure they deliver.