A snap by-election has been called in Hampstead Town, Camden, for the 27th September. The ward, which had two Tory and one Lib Dem councillor is likely to be hotly contested and will be an interesting barometer of the state of play in the Coalition parties (2010 results for ward).
Conservative Councillor Kirsty Roberts is said to be relocating to the US, which may well have been unexpected for the opposition parties but probably wasn’t a surprise to her or the Conservative group who appear more than ready for the by-election.
The speedy notice is almost certainly an attempt by the Conservatives to wrong foot the opposition, not giving good time to select a decent candidate in or start working the ward. It also means the election falls on the week of the Liberal Democrat conference, which may mean the coalition parties aren’t playing that nice, at Camden level at least.
While it’s likely the main contest will be between the Lib Dems and Tories the Labour Party may well take a serious shot at the ward in the hope that strong national polling figures can translate into an unlikely local victory.
The candidates – Conservative
The Conservative candidate Simon Marcus (right) who ran for Parliament in 2010 in Barking (against Nick Griffin), seems like a strong candidate, saying “Hampstead has never needed defending more than now, and I am committed to protecting and enhancing all the things that make this such a special place to live. Whether keeping a full time police station, campaigning for a vibrant high street with local, independent shops or stopping developments that spoil our area, I will fight for what is best for Hampstead.
He continued “Following last summer’s riots, I was appointed by the Government to sit on the Independent Riots Communities and Victims Panel. Travelling the country I saw the pressures that local communities face in difficult times. I also saw how local councils promote duty and pride in their communities, run good services and how they keep their residents safe. Through my work with the Riots Panel and the Boxing Academy, I understand how communities stay strong and councils make less money go further.”
The Liberal Democrat candidate Dr Jeffrey Fine (right pictured with Cllr Linda Chung) stood in Frognal and Fitzohn ward in 2010 (with a strong showing). Fine told the CNJ““Local shops have gone through a tough time over recent years, but hopefully things have turned the corner – but I think there is so much more that can be done and I’m willing to play my part… I see the improvements and transformation on Marylebone High Street and think, ‘why not South End Green and Hampstead?’.”
Neither party that was elected in the ward in 2010 is standing the unsuccessful candidates from that election.
Labour have selected Madhavan Raman (twitter) who said “My mother’s a doctor, and I’m passionate about the NHS. Living so close to the Royal Free, I know what a great job our health service does and I’ve campaigned actively in the community to protect the NHS and our Royal Free Hospital as part of the ‘Keep Our NHS Public’ campaign.”
The Greens selected the only female candidate so far with local campaigner Sophie Dix, who has campaigned against the proposed New End Nurses’ Home redevelopment (twice proposed and twice rejected by the council after strong community opposition).
She said of the campaign “The fact that they wanted to install a huge basement, with provision to two or three cars per flat, would have caused great damage to the area – both during the construction, with huge numbers of lorry movements, and after from the increased traffic.
“I’d rather it remained as a nurses’ home. We need socially mixed communities with homes for a wide range of people – not more luxury flats.”