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Jury is still out on new council's performance

PUBLISHED: 14:50 30 May 2007 | UPDATED: 14:32 07 September 2010

NOBODY believes political promises, especially when they are delivered in the run-up to elections. More often it s a case of disenchanted voters giving politicians or their parties the benefit of the doubt because change is overdue. Yet the new Camden ad

NOBODY believes political promises, especially when they are delivered in the run-up to elections. More often it's a case of disenchanted voters giving politicians or their parties the benefit of the doubt because change is overdue.

Yet the new Camden administration was brought home a year ago on a wave of optimism that evoked a local cameo of Tony Blair's victorious march to Downing Street in 1997.

At a recent party to celebrate the Blair years, Alastair Campbell, for so long the power behind the throne, paid a glowing tribute to the man he believes will go down in history as one of the greatest ever Prime Ministers. And indeed, were it not for Iraq, most people would agree.

If Blair's reputation is now in doubt, it has taken the best part of a decade for the initial optimism to subside. The current power-sharing administration in Camden is in danger of achieving the same level of descent in much speedier fashion.

It meddles where it need not meddle, such as in those ridiculous proposals which would have made it an offence to allow dogs off the leash. It prevaricates where radical action is required, such as in the slothful pace of parking reform, an area of administration that caused more discontent under the old Labour administration than almost anything else.

It is playing with fire in planning to sell off more council housing (how ridiculous that parking profits cannot be channelled into this most worthy of social needs - though to be fair that restriction is not of the council's making). If anything, provision for care of the elderly could be an even more volatile issue. It seems unsure as to how to proceed on school run permits, and has a long way to go to catch up with more progressive authorities on environmental issues, though eco champion Alexis Rowell is working hard.

One year on, the council is facing a challenging time and it is over the coming months that its reputation will be made or broken. Tread carefully!

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