The independent London newspaper

We need a return to democracy by the council

11 September, 2020

• AS widely predicted, the Camden’s cabinet and leader have reappointed themselves without any need to seek a vote, even from fellow Labour Party councillors.

The exception is Cllr Jonathan Simpson who has stood down. His latest “contribution” to the voluntary sector was to reimpose half-rents to such organisations even though they have no means of raising income through hiring out their council-owned premises. Maybe the new incumbent can reverse this threat to their financial futures.

Increasing numbers of letters to the CNJ have exposed the shortcomings of the council in a wide number of services. Last week it was the increasing litter and graffiti, again.

Readers may have noticed that both in letters and articles we get, at best, a bland response from the council. Cabinet members rarely respond. Similarly emails to councillors, officers, and cabinet members are unanswered even on minor matters of concern.

Major issues, such as the Community Investment Programme debacle, the Chalcots, gross financial mismanagement, and the closure of schools and nurseries, get no response. Or more likely are hidden under a cloak of secrecy.

How can Camden Council return to a transparent and democratic society?

In Gospel Oak it could, for example, arrange for a Carlton community ballot on the proposals to close the school and nearby nursery. After all, it had a much vaunted ballot on the regeneration of the West Kentish Town estate.

We must return to a democratic society where elected councillors listen to, and respond to, their electorate and hold officers accountable for their actions and treatment of “customers”.

Residents, too, must keep up the pressure and not just throw up their hands in despair and whinge on social media.



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