At the start of LGBT+ History Month, Scott Emery, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead & Highgate, wrote in the Camden New Journal about the links between homelessness, identity and sexuality.
He said “LGBTQ+ individuals comprise nearly a quarter of all youth homelessness—a figure likely underestimated. Moreover, even when LGBTQ+ individuals find temporary shelter, they often encounter discrimination and harassment within the system itself. Many feel compelled to conceal their true selves out of fear for their safety, intensifying feelings of isolation. This lack of acceptance perpetuates the cycle of homelessness, making it even harder for individuals to access the support and resources they desperately need.
To address the challenges faced by these young people, we must tackle the root causes of LGBTQ+ homelessness by promoting acceptance and inclusion within families, schools, and communities. I think it’s also important to look at ourselves. Part of the responsibility falls on us—the conversations we have in our communities, how we respond to hate, and the kindness we show to those we encounter every day.”
You can read the full text of the article here.
Cllr Matthew Kirk, Lib Dem councillor for Belsize Ward, congratulated the Camden New Journal and Islington Tribune for their December Climate Conference – the LDNCOP.
He pointed out that a key message from the Conference was the role of planning and building decisions in tackling climate change. Despite the evidence on the value of retrofit and reuse, Camden Council’s planning committee has repeatedly agreed to developers’ pleas for demolition – such as in the cases of Selkirk House, West Kentish Town and the O2 Shopping Centres.
In a letter published in the New Journal, he said that Camden Lib Dems would “continue to fight carbon-intensive development and press for Camden’s actions to match its words”.
Cllr Tom Simon, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Camden Council, has described the Labour Council’s handling of the removal of homeless people from outside UCLH last month as a “failure of leadership”.
In a letter published in the Camden New Journal, he said that the council’s investigation had shown that officers had known about the issue for months, and that key questions such as why other approaches hadn’t had an impact, were left unanswered. Concluding, he said that the council’s response was motivated by protecting its reputation, rather than meeting its duties to those sleeping rough in our community.
Hear from Farrell Monk about why he’s standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate, and what he wants to change, if elected on 30th November.
Farrell has been out listening to residents, and is keen to hear your views. Fill in his survey at: https://londonlibdems.typeform.com/to/ivUDkNeP
Camden Liberal Democrats have selected Cllr. Scott Emery and Charlie Clinton as their Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for the forthcoming General Election in Hampstead and Highgate and Holborn and St Pancras constituencies.
Cllr Scott Emery, who will fight Hampstead and Highgate, is a strong campaigner who has twice beaten Labour, being the youngest councillor elected in Haringey in 2018. He currently represents the Highgate Ward in Haringey.
A passion for environmental change has led Scott to a successful campaign on single use plastics and the ongoing fight against the Edmonton Incinerator.
Born in Wales, Scott moved to North London 8 years ago. He has spent the last 7 years working for a biomedical engineering company manufacturing implants. He's just decided to return to study, reading sustainable engineering.
Scott said "I'm relishing the challenge of taking on Labour. For too long they've let people down on issues such as tackling homelessness and our relationship with Europe. I want to show Hampstead and Highgate that a better, more liberal, option is possible.”
Charlie Clinton, candidate for Holborn and St Pancras, has lived in London for 18 years – the first six living all over the constituency from Kentish Town to Camden Street, and Camden Road to Agar Grove.
A Law Graduate from UCL and ex-Sabbatical officer for UCL Students Union, he is now a Marketing & Tech professional working in Sustainability at a multinational company, where he has been a national employee representative. He is also part-time musician gigging around London.
Responding to his selection Charlie said “It is a privilege to stand for such a vibrant area of London. As Sir Keir Starmer worries about his national polling, and local Labour councillors ignore their residents, I will work with Lib Dem councillors to give people a voice.
People are fed up – and as the country struggles under our broken political system, I will take every opportunity to champion real change, calling for top-to-bottom reform of the country, from local NHS services all the way to Parliament. I will share a vision of a fairer, healthier and happier society fit for the 21st century.”
Baroness Sue Garden, President of Camden Liberal Democrats, has welcomed the selections. “Congratulations to Charlie and Scott, two great Liberal Democrat candidates who will serve our communities well. I wish them every success.”
The Labour-run council’s proposed changes and increases in parking charges are supposed to be based on sensible principles – to reduce emissions, improve air quality, free up kerb space and make parking in Camden fairer and greener. These are principles that the Liberal Democrats support, but sadly many parts of the proposals do not match their stated aims, or even contradict them.
Firstly, removing scratch cards for visitor permits would badly affect vulnerable and/or elderly residents who tend to rely on them and may struggle with the online system. Is it fair to expect them to depend on the council’s unreliable phone system, to arrange parking for the visits they need for healthcare, social or other reasons? Not fair at all.
Secondly, increasing parking charges for car clubs would discourage investment by car clubs in Camden, reducing the quality and range of options. This makes no sense as car clubs are an important pathway for reducing car use and ownership in Camden, as recognised by the council’s own policies. Not green.
Thirdly, hiking parking charges for electric vehicles by 300-400% sends a very negative message to people and organisations thinking of switching to electric vehicles, as well as to investment in Camden’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Not fair or green.
Fourthly, how is it fair to treat motorbikes the same as cars and hike up their charges, given they have much lower lifetime emissions, contribute far less to congestion and take up far less kerb space? Not fair and not green.
In addition to these specific concerns, it is also unclear how the proposed support package for people who will struggle to pay the increased charges will actually work. It is unclear how the complex system of surcharges for visitor permits would work. It is unclear what limiting permits to one vehicle would mean. We think that asking the people of Camden for their views on the proposals, when these crucial bits of information were missing or vague is not fair.
Parking charges in Camden are already among the highest in London. The large increases in these proposals would make the borough an outlier, and would do so in a way that is neither fair nor green. The proposals would harm vulnerable people in Camden and risk pushing people away from greener forms of transport. The Labour administration needs to think again.
It’s now over a year since the Liberal Democrats became the Official Opposition on Camden Council, with councillors in Belsize, Fortune Green and Hampstead Town.
The team have produced an Annual Report, setting out what the Councillors have done over the year – calling for more help on the cost-of-living crisis, pushing for action on tackling climate change, and speaking up for residents on developments such as the O2 centre site.
Ward by ward, the report also sets out action that the councillors have been taking in their local areas – as in the Fortune Green example shown – where Cllr Nancy Jirira has been celebrating new and revived tenants and residents associations and addressing concerns about crime and community safety.
Lib Dem Opposition Group Leader has called for swift action and no more excuses from Labour-run Camden Council after a damning report from the Regulator of Social Housing which found that over 9,000 council homes had no smoke alarms fitted, and many other fire safety failings.
The Camden New Journal reports Cllr Simon saying “The regulator’s findings are staggering. Magdalena Fink died in November 2017 because Camden had failed to do urgent work identified in 2013. … the RSH has found “longstanding’ failure and that Camden is currently in breach of regulations. Enough excuses, enough failure. Labour-run Camden must get its act together before there is a further tragedy”.
In a letter, published by the Camden New Journal on 27th July, Tom writes,
“The Notice issued by the Regulator of Social Housing on Friday (21st July) is another damning indictment of Labour-run Camden's record on fire safety.
The history of failures leading to the death of Magdalena Fink and what has happened since is important.
In January 2013 a fire risk assessment identified urgent works needed at 31 Daleham Gardens. That was simply ignored for the next four years. In May 2017 a further risk assessment identified the works as outstanding and extremely urgent. Still nothing was done. On 21st November 2017 there was the fatal fire.
Camden Council was savagely criticised by the Coroner in April 2018 who made a series of orders for immediate action to prevent further deaths.
In February 2023, Camden Council were prosecuted for their fire safety failures and, in May 2023, fined £500,000. In mitigation they told the court, as they had told councillors, that they had learnt the lesson of that fire and had put things right.
The significance of the Regulator’s notice is simple: they have not.
Nearly six years after the fire, Camden is currently in breach of its fire safety duties. It does not have an effective system in place and it is putting tenants at risk. 9,000 actions are overdue, 1500 of them for three years, and 400 of them high risk. In 2019 6,000 actions were overdue - the situation is getting dramatically worse. Critically, many of the overdue actions are for straightforward jobs like installing smoke alarms. The absence of functioning smoke alarms was a major factor in the death of Magdelena Fink. These failures cost lives.
Keeping residents safe from fire is one of a council’s most basic duties. It is non-negotiable. Our call to the Labour administration is straightforward: there can be no further excuses and no further delays. This must be dealt with before there is further tragedy.”
The Liberal Democrats have delivered another shocking blow to the Conservative government by winning in Somerton and Frome.
Sarah Dyke overturned a Conservative majority of 19,213.
Sarah polled 21,187 votes, winning a majority of 11,008 with a swing of 29%.
"What a night. What a result. Somerton and Frome has spoken for the country and sent a message to this appalling government. Ringmaster Rishi is out of touch, out of ideas and out of excuses. Time for a General Election to end this Conservative circus and get these clowns out."
The extraordinary efforts of Liberal Democrat members and volunteers delivered this historic result, securing the largest majority and swing on an explosive triple byelection night which saw the Conservatives lose 2 of the 3 seats they were fighting desperately to defend.
The people of Somerton and Frome have spoken for the country. Enough is Enough. It is time for a general election to end this Conservative circus.
This victory is further proof that in vast swathes of the country, the best way to get rid of this Conservative government is to vote for the Liberal Democrats.
Four historic by-election results in two years shows clearly that the Liberal Democrats are a force to be reckoned with. We are going from strength to strength, as voters across the country are backing hard working Liberal Democrat candidates who fight hard for their area.
West Hampstead Thameslink is a busy interchange station, with passengers switching from the Overground and Jubilee Line to the Thameslink both northbound and southbound. In the year to March 2022 there were 2.2m entries and exits to the station, with an estimated 659,000 interchanges. West Hampstead is a designated “area for intensification” and a planning application has recently been approved for 1800 new homes in the area, which will increase footfall at the station significantly over the coming years.
There are many passengers, including both Londoners and tourists, who use the station to travel to Luton Airport and Gatwick Airport and they are often looking to purchase a ticket, and needing advice on what to purchase. As well as closing the ticket office, the hours of ticket assistance are to be reduced on a Sunday morning (currently open from 7.40; proposed to be open from 9.30), despite this being a busy time for passengers travelling to these airports.
West Hampstead Thameslink is a fully accessible station and therefore likely to be used disproportionately by those with disabilities, who will be badly affected by the ticket office closure. Blind or partially sighted people are unable to use self-service ticket machines, and they are hard to access for anyone who uses a wheelchair. Although ticket assistance is to be provided, these staff will be roaming the station and there will not be an obvious place where a member of staff can be found at all times.
I urge the Government, train operators and Thameslink company to rethink their plans to close the Ticket Office at West Hampstead station.
West Hampstead Liberal Democrats
Lib Dem member and former Camden resident Eugene Lynch spoke to Sky News last week about why Pride still matters today. Eugene works for the Terence Higgins Trust and was speaking to highlight the campaign to end new cases of HIV by 2030.
He also spoke about the importance of demonstrating solidarity with trans and non-binary people, in the light of increasingly hostile rhetoric from government and in the media.
As voters go to the polls in the South Hampstead By-Election, Lib Dem Candidate Patrick Stillman is encouraging residents to go out and vote Liberal Democrat today. He says,
“Thank you for the warm welcome that you’ve given me during the by-election campaign. I’ve put myself forward as the Liberal Democrat candidate in this by-election because I live in this area, care about it, and would like to help make it even better.
Many people have told me that they feel let down by Labour, and that it is time for a change.
They are disappointed and angry with the Labour Council for approving the O2 centre redevelopment, and because they don’t seem to care about the issues round here – rubbish on the streets, crime and anti-social behaviour, and poor maintenance on our housing estates.
Voting Labour in this by-election won’t change anything around here.
As for the Conservatives, they came third across Camden in last year’s local elections. They can’t give this area the strong voice it needs.
The Liberal Democrats are the official opposition on Camden Council – so I’ll be joining a strong team, able to raise your concerns and stand up for your interests.
If I’m elected, I promise to work hard to listen and respond to residents’ concerns, and to make sure everyone – young and old – has their voice heard at the Town Hall.
Polling stations are open until 10pm. You don’t need your poll card to vote, but you will need to take ID. You can check accepted forms of ID here.
I hope you’ll give me your support. Thank you.
Liberal Democrat Candidate, South Hampstead By-Election
Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition, Cllr Tom Simon, has written to the Secretary of State requesting that he “Call In” Camden Council’s decision to approve Landsec’s plans to redevelop the O2 Centre site.
Cllr Tom Simon sits on the Council’s Planning Committee and was one of only three councillors to vote against the plans. The only Labour councillor to vote against has since resigned, causing a by-election in South Hampstead ward.
In his letter, sent to Rt Hon Michael Gove on 13 th April, Cllr Simon points out that the plans for dense, tall blocks breach the London Plan, and the National Model Design Code, and that the scheme fails Camden’s policies on affordable housing and green open space. He also points to pressure on existing services such as water supply and transport infrastructure, which will be exacerbated by the development.
The scheme was approved by Camden Council on 30 th March and is currently with the London Mayor’s office for assessment.
New laws brought in by the Conservative Government now mean everyone needs to show Photo ID to vote in person. The by-election in South Hampstead on 1st June will be the first election on London with this requirement.
Acceptable forms of Photo ID include passports (including expired ones if the photo still looks like you), photo driving licences, Oyster 60+ card or Freedom Pass. If you don’t have this form of ID, then you can:
Camden’s Lib Dem councillors have been pushing for Camden’s planning councillors to get extra training on “climate literacy” after the Labour Council approved a number of major planning applications that breached its own carbon net zero policies.
Cllr Matthew Kirk, Belsize Ward, said that the Planning Committee should start “putting embodied carbon at the heart of all decisions”. Read more at:
Local resident Patrick Stillman has kicked off his campaign in South Hampstead with a survey asking
residents about their local priorities.
Patrick said “I believe that a local councillor should listen to residents and speak up for them, so I want to hear what matters to you, whether it is the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, rubbish & recycling or local development. I’m hoping lots of residents will complete the survey and let me know their views.”
Complete the survey by clicking the link below.
The Liberal Democrats have selected local resident Patrick Stillman as their candidate for the South Hampstead by-election on Thursday 1st June. The by-election has been caused by a Labour councillor resigning after less than a year in the job.
Patrick has lived in the South Hampstead area since moving to London in 2021 after completing his Master’s degree and working as a full-time Students Union officer.
He currently works in the financial crime industry – helping banks and financial institutions tackle money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing. Patrick is also a competitive Fencer, having previously represented Wales at the Senior Five Nations in Dublin in 2019.
He is passionate about making sure everyone, especially young people, can have their voice heard.
Camden’s Liberal Democrat councillors stood up for democracy and the climate emergency at an emergency meeting of the Culture and Environment committee in early April. They were challenging the decision made by a Camden Council Cabinet Member over the proposed sale of the Regis Road Growth Area to a single developer. The decision, announced on 10th March, might result in the demolition of the Holmes Road Depot, only retrofitted a short while back at the cost to the Council of £8.65m.
The Liberal Democrats, who form the official Opposition on Camden Council, used the “call-in” procedure to request that the terms of the agreement include protection from demolition for the Holmes Road depot. They were supported in this challenge by Climate Emergency Camden with a forceful argument concerning embedded carbon and the crucial urgency of ensuring every planning decision is measured against its carbon impact, and not subsequent to it.
The other major principle being challenged was the need for such major decisions to be properly scrutinised from the outset.
Belsize Councillor Judy Dixey said “This decision is one that sets the strategy for redeveloping a major area of the Borough – and has not been presented for any scrutiny by the Council. Scrutiny is offered “down the line” on the detail, but that is not enough. We’re concerned that the Council is now in hock to a major developer and vulnerable to the developer running out of funds or claiming the impossibility of adhering to Council planning policies, such as 50% affordable homes. The Council has delegated to a single developer its powers to create a Masterplan for the area, in collaboration with residents.
“While our challenge failed and the original decision stood, we did our best for Camden’s residents, and will continue to do so in the future.”
Liberal Democrat councillors and campaigners joined Little Amal this week as she visited JW3 in West Hampstead, Hampstead Heath, and Granary Square. Little Amal is a 12-foot puppet of a Syrian refugee child, who has become a symbol of the experience of those fleeing persecution and seeking sanctuary through the ages.
West Hampstead campaigner Janet Grauberg said “It was amazing to be part of welcoming Little Amal to West Hampstead. With the Conservatives and Labour both taking increasingly populist anti-immigration lines, it’s the Liberal Democrats who are standing up for those seeking sanctuary in our country today”.
Find out more about Little Amal https://www.walkwithamal.org
Camden’s Planning Committee will meet on 30 th March to consider a Planning Application from Landsec to develop the O2 Shopping Centre, car park and Homebase site between West End Lane and Finchley Road.
Local campaigner Janet Grauberg objected on behalf of West Hampstead Liberal Democrats. She said “We’re disappointed that Landsec has ignored residents’ hopes for a mixed and vibrant community and ignored suggestions to address additional congestion. A large surface level car park between two Zone 2 tube stations isn’t a good use of space, but Landsec’s plans repeatedly breach Camden Council’s planning policies and should be rejected.” The West Hampstead Lib Dem objection pointed out:
Camden’s Liberal Democrat women have been writing in the Camden New Journal’s International Women’s Day edition this week. Cllr Judy Dixey, elected in May 2022 for Belsize Park, considered female politicians through the ages, and encouraged more women to put themselves forward for election.
Former councillor and Group Leader Luisa Porritt reflected on an article she had written two years ago, in the aftermath of the killing of Sarah Everard, and concluded that, despite the outcry and anger, misogyny and abuse of women is still rife in our society. “Fundamentally, nothing much as changed”, she concludes.
Speaking in February’s Budget Debate, Liberal Democrat Opposition Group Leader Cllr Tom Simon put supporting families through the cost-of-living crisis at the heart of the Liberal Democrat Budget Amendment. He said: “Responsibility for the cost-of-living crisis lies squarely with the Conservative Government. But Camden’s Labour Council also has choices, and it should be doing more to support families.
“Our Amendment would free up funds by renting out space at the Council’s offices at 5 Pancras Square. We’d put this money towards free school meals for secondary students from low-income families, free school meals for primary pupils from Easter onwards, and support for school uniform costs.
Other Lib Dem Budget Amendments would support communities to tackle the climate emergency, reverse cuts to homelessness services, tackle the planning backlog, improve oversight of building sites, and address the Council’s failing “bin bags on the streets” waste collection policies.
Cllr Tom Simon, leader of the Lib Dem Opposition on Camden Council, has challenged the hypocrisy of local Conservatives for inviting Home Secretary Suella Braverman to speak at a fundraising event, only a week after they voted for a Council Motion to extend a warm welcome to refugees.
Cllr Simon was reported in the Camden New Journal as saying “How can Camden Tories support a Motion for a Borough of Sanctuary one week, then invite Suella Braverman to an event the next? This is a Home Secretary who dreams of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda and is breaking key pledges made to the victims of the Windrush Scandal. The hypocrisy is shocking.”
This comes on the back of a letter from Cllr Simon in the CNJ calling out the local Conservatives for their hypocritical stance on housing developments. They were trying to paint themselves as “champions” fighting against the big developments such as plans for the O2 Shopping Centre, but Cllr Simon pointed out it was Conservative policies that were driving developments in boroughs like Camden. He wrote “The Housing Delivery Test, introduced by the Conservatives in 2018, puts councils under huge pressure to maximise the number of new housing units built in their areas. Failure to hit targets can lead to a dramatic weakening in planning controls in their area, lessening the say oflocal residents.”
At January’s Council meeting Cllr Tom Simon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat council group, spoke up in favour of Camden becoming a “Borough of Sanctuary” – a place that provides welcome and support to refugees and those seeking sanctuary from persecution.
He said “For Camden to join the City of Sanctuary movement is important because it sets the gold standard for supporting asylum-seekers here in the Borough, building on the work of our community in supporting refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine and many other places. “It is also important because it adds Camden’s voices, loud and clear, to those who believe that Britain is one of the richest countries of the world, and should be a beacon of hope to people fleeing war or persecution”.
You can watch Tom's speech by clicking here.
West Hampstead Liberal Democrats have made investment in our local green spaces their top priority in their submission to Camden Council’s “Community Infrastructure Levy” consultation.
Over the next three years, West Hampstead is set to benefit from up to £900,000 in CIL funding, which is allocated following building and development in the area.
Janet Grauberg, who put together the consultation response, said “When we surveyed residents last year, the quality of our green open space was one of top local concerns, along with rubbish on our high streets and local health services. West Hampstead is a congested area, so we’re asking the Council to invest in precious open spaces, such as West End Green and Maygrove Peace Park, as places where we can all relax, and get a breath of fresh air”.
Camden Council are consulting at the moment on spending local “Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)” funds – which fund local projects to improve community facilities: https://camdencil2022.commonplace.is.
In NW6 local CIL has recently funded cycle hangars and electric vehicle charging points and food projects at JW3, the Sherriff Centre, Sidings Community Centre and St Cuthbert’s Church. Nearly £19,000 was spent on the new Heritage Bins on West End Lane, and £138,000 is being spent on extra staff to improve rubbish collection in West Hampstead ward.
The Council estimates that Fortune Green ward could have up to £80,000 of local CIL to spend over the coming three years, and West Hampstead ward over £900,000.
This consultation happens once every four years, and then ward councillors use the list to select projects to fund. Not everything on the list above will be able to be funded, so if you like these ideas, or think there are other local projects worth funding, let them know! The Commonplace website is a bit fiddly, so you can also email them on CIL@camden.gov.uk by 19th December.
At Camden’s Full Council in November Cllr Judy Dixey proposed a Motion calling on the Council to do more to support residents through the cost of living and climate crises by seeking funding for energy efficiency measures such as retrofitting insulation and extending the installation of solar panels. Despite Labour party amendments, many Lib Dem suggestions were passed in the final motion, including a request to create a free School Uniform Bank to help families, as happens in Lib Dem-run Sutton. You can watch the webcast at https://camden.public-i.tv/.../webcast_interactive/694562 (Item 13)
"Time to Renew the Fight for Justice and Equality" - was the title of Lib Dem Councillor Nancy Jirira's piece in the Black History Month edition of the Camden New Journal last week. It's an inspiring read!
We did it! Thank you to everyone who voted for Linda Chung in the Hampstead Town by-election.
Linda will be a strong voice in the council for all the people of Hampstead Town and a champion for the local community. She will ensure that Hampstead town and the north-west of the borough are no longer taken for granted.
Linda won with 41% of the vote ahead of the Tories on 28% and Labour on 25%.
Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats said "Huge congratulations to the Liberal Democrats' newest councillor Linda Chung and to the Camden Lib Dems team"