Hampstead Town by-election: Find out about your candidates here
Hampstead Town is going to the polls today (Thursday, September 27) to elect a new councillor.
The by-election was triggered when Conservative councillor Kirsty Roberts stepped down last month ahead of her move to the United States.
Four candidates are vying for the seat - Sophie Dix is running for the Green Party, Dr Jeffrey Fine for the Liberal Democrats, Simon Marcus for the Conservatives and Maddy Raman for Labour.
Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm.
They are located at New End Primary School in Streatley Place, Fitzjohn’s Primary School in Fitzjohn’s Avenue and Keats Community Library in Keats Grove.
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Reporters Tara Brady and Josh Pettitt speak to the candidates to find out why they want be elected.
SIMON MARCUS: CONSERVATIVE
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Hampstead rugby captain Simon Marcus is not afraid of talking tough and is bracing himself to tackle the uncertainty surrounding Hampstead Police Station.
The 40-year-old Conservative candidate, who went to St Anthony’s School in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead, and is the son of a former Heath and Hampstead Society president, has set his sights on protecting the area’s heritage and securing a 24/7 policing presence in Hampstead for generations to come.
“Everyone who has lived in Hampstead has seen it there for their whole life and it’s a part of our heritage,” said the Hampstead Rugby Club fourth team captain.
“We have to draw a line and say, ‘We will not stop fighting until we see a full-time permanent police station.’ If we have to give way on the building, it is surely better to have something than nothing.”
Mr Marcus, of Platt’s Lane, Hampstead, was spurred into entering the political arena after a brief spell in Brussels lobbying the European Union on behalf of the British Chamber of Commerce.
He returned home to Hampstead and started the Boxing Academy in Tottenham, providing an alternative to mainstream school for excluded teenagers, combining learning with the discipline and culture of boxing.
“I thought to myself, ‘You can either stay in Brussels and become a lobbyist or change the life of young people’,” said Mr Marcus, who fought two bouts when he was younger and helped out at a boxing gym in St Pancras. “For me it was a no-brainer.”
He contested the Barking seat in the 2010 General Election against BNP leader Nick Griffin – coming second.
“I believe in preserving what is good, what is tried and tested, and fight for the moral values that make Hampstead a beautiful place,” said Mr Marcus, who now works as an adviser to groups trying to set up free schools.
MADDY RAMAN: LABOUR
When TV editor Maddy Raman is not working on shows including This Morning, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and Dancing On Ice, he is a Hampstead school governor campaigning to save his local police station from closure.
The 31-year-old, whose graphic designer wife Ruth is expecting their first child next year, joined the Labour Party in November 2010.
“I really didn’t like what the coalition government was doing,” Mr Raman said.
“I really don’t think we are all in this together. So I decided to get involved in local politics.”
Mr Raman, a governor at Beckford Primary School, in West Hampstead, says he wants to ensure there are opportunities for young people to get the best start in life.
As a child, he was brought up by his mother, a single parent doing night shifts as an A&E doctor in hospitals in and around Manchester.
He said: “Before I went to secondary school I had already been a pupil at 11 different primary schools.
“We moved a lot because of my mum’s job. But she made a lot of sacrifices for me and when I look back, I think how lucky I was that I had a mum who did that.
“I think every child deserves an opportunity and everyone should have a chance to be whoever they want to be.”
Protecting local businesses is also among Mr Raman’s priorities: “When I moved here seven years ago, there were more independent shops, but many have closed or been taken over by chain stores. I want to bring local businesses together to come up with ways of protecting their future.”
Mr Raman, of of South Hill Park, is also concerned over plans which could see historic Hampstead police station close within six to 24 months.
“I do not want to see my local police station close down,” he said. “I don’t want to see people’s safety compromised.”
Mr Raman also vows to fight for more primary school places, homes and protection of the NHS.
Asked why voters should back him, he said: “I will fight for the residents of Hampstead and listen to what they want.”
DR JEFFREY FINE: LIBERAL DEMOCRAT
For most of his career, Dr Jeffrey Fine dished out diet tips. Now the Liberal Democrat candidate is setting his sights on cutting down on rubbish dumped on Hampstead’s streets to preserve the village feel.
The Harley Street doctor fell in love with Hampstead when he first cycled through it as a young trainee doctor.
After living in the area for 30 years, the 56-year-old is campaigning to preserve the unique village ambience which first attracted him to this corner of north London.
“It’s a very villagey area and there are a lot of people who live here who don’t leave very often,” said Dr Fine, who has lived in Gayton Road, Hampstead, for 17 years.
“Although visitors need to come to the area, for me, it’s an area where people should be able to walk around comfortably.
“It is a very cosmopolitan area and it has still got to be primarily there for the people who live here.”
He added: “The thing that irritates me is the litter issue in places like Gayton Road, which is close to the high street.
“Although it might seem like a small thing it can lead to other issues because it shapes people’s behaviour.”
Dr Fine, who carried out some of his postgraduate studies at the Royal Free Hospital, said he was also keen to protect the traditional high street and promote the interests of independent traders.
The father-of-two said: “How many shops are selling something people are actually interested in having? People want variety on their high street.”
Dr Fine has also pledged to tackle the school run which he claims is an accident waiting to happen – with many of the narrow streets being used as rat runs.
He has also vowed to fight for a continued police presence in Hampstead and wants to retain the Grade II-listed police station for the community.
SOPHIE DIX: GREEN PARTY
Protecting the environment was instilled into Green Party candidate Sophie Dix from a young age.
She was brought up away from the hustle and bustle of London life in Totnes, South Devon, the home of the very first Transition Town group which works to promote a greener way of living.
Now after 20 years as a resident of Christchurch Passage, Hampstead, she hopes to set a greener agenda in Camden to protect its residents and community’s heritage in the future.
“I have always been sensitive about noise and pollution,” Miss Dix said. “Eventually, I joined the Green Party and have been a fully fledged member for about 18 months.
“After the general election, I was among the many who wanted to believe in something. Politics had become ludicrous.”
When Miss Dix is not busy being mum to her two daughters Georgia, seven, and Violet, three, she is an actress and screenwriter.
The 43-year-old is probably best known for her role as Capt Sadie Williams in TV drama Soldier Soldier which starred Robson Green and Jerome Flynn.
She has also appeared in The Bill, Holby City and alongside Colin Firth in the 1993 film The Hour Of The Pig.
“That was long before Mr Darcy,” Miss Dix laughs. “The acting has taken a back seat since I had my children, but I thoroughly enjoy it. I also love to write.
“I have written screenplays. A couple are in development at the moment. I also have written for radio including Women’s Hour.”
But it was campaigning against plans to redevelop New End Nurses’ Home, in New End, that Miss Dix began to make her mark on the local political scene.
She wants to protect Hampstead’s independent shops to prevent the area from becoming “another clone high street which is soulless” and would like to see more provision for pre-school children.
She also aims to cut traffic congestion, encourage parents to car share when doing the school run and campaign for more school buses.
“We need to fight to protect GP services and mental health provision now more than ever,” she added.
“As a mother, I have also found that there needs to be more early-years provision for toddlers in the area.
“We want to protect the historic heritage of Hampstead. Avoid overdevelopment, support local shops and businesses and provide toddlers with provision before they start school.
“I love this community and want to make it the best place it can be. I want to make it healthier and safer for adults and children alike. This is about protecting our future and our children’s future.”