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Rock ‘n’ roll councillor to step down from cabinet

Jonathan Simpson opens up vacancy ahead of AGM

20 August, 2020 — By Richard Osley

Councillor Jonathan Simpson

CAMDEN’S leisure and culture chief is to step down from the Town Hall cabinet.

Labour councillor Jonathan Simpson has told the ruling Labour group that it is time for new talent to come forward after six and a half years on the executive. He said he will remain a councillor in King’s Cross and will maintain his campaigns to help Camden’s music venues survive the coronavirus crisis

Cllr Simpson has twice served as the mayor of Camden, and he was known as the Rock N Roll Mayor because of the money he raised to help and promote Camden’s musical heritage.

Leaders of cultural organisations in Camden have paid tribute to his service.

Raymond Simonson, chief executive of the JW3 Centre, said: “He was Mayor of Camden when we opened in 2013 and has been with us every step of our journey since opening our doors. In particular, his support during the most challenging times – such as the past six months of lockdown – is hugely appreciated by the trustees of JW3 and by me personally.

“And I know from many colleagues across Camden’s cultural sector that Cllr Simpson is held in very high esteem as a respected and much loved colleague and champion of culture and community within the borough.”

Jonathan Simpson helping to launch the Music Walk of Fame last year

Roundhouse artistic director Marcus Davey added: “Jonathan has been an incredible supporter of the Roundhouse since before we reopened in 2006 and he has given tireless time and energy to help us achieve our goals as a venue but namely as a charity that works with thousands of young creatives each year.

“We’re sad to see him step down from his role  he is such a huge advocate for not only venues such as ours, but of the value that culture and creativity can bring to our borough, and our lives.”

All a blur: Jonathan Simpson singing Parklife during his mayoral year

Lee Bennett, who set up the Music Walk of Fame in Camden Town, said: “He helped us get to a stage where we are able to launch last year.  He’s helped ensure that Camden’s music heritage has a new chapter.  We look forward to working with him in the future”.

The Labour group will change the make-up of its cabinet – the inner circle of Camden’s ten most senior councillors – at its annual general meeting next month.

Cllr Simpson with council leader Georgia Gould

A point of controversy within the group, a system of elections has been replaced with a ‘leader selects’ procedure, allowing council leader Georgia Gould the freedom to choose her own cabinet and Cllr Simpson’s successor in the culture role.

Kaya Stanley-Money, the executive cirector of Camden’s People’s Theatre, said:  “Jonathan has been one of CPT’s biggest champions over the years. The support, advice and belief he has in our work has been instrumental to our success and the impact we have on early-career artists and local audiences.”

She added: “We were saddened to hear that he will be stepping down from his role in cabinet later this year. His hard work, enthusiasm and commitment to Camden’s cultural organisations has been unwavering and we are incredibly grateful for all he’s done for the borough.”


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