Camden Council Conservative leader Claire-Louise Leyland says farewell to council after standing down

Claire-Louise Leyland addresses the Council meeting on January 29

Claire-Louise Leyland addresses the Council meeting on January 29 - Credit: Harry Taylor

All political leaderships eventually come to an end, and for the final time, on Monday night, Claire-Louise Leyland led her Conservative group on Camden Council.

Councillor Leyland, who has been leader of the group since 2013, announced on Friday that she would be standing down ahead of May’s elections.

She will also not be contesting her Belsize ward seat at the elections, which she has held since 2010.

As she sat opposite with her cabinet, Camden Council leader Cllr Georgia Gould paid tribute to her opponent, and said despite their differences, they had worked closely together over the Chalcots evacuation following the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

“I would like to thanks Claire-Louise for her long service to Camden. We do have very different politics but you care a lot and that was clear during the Chalcots. That could have been used as a political point, but you got your high-vis jacket on and worked through the night,” she said.

In her last response as Conservative leader, Cllr Leyland paid tribute to her Tory colleagues. “Don’t forget that the work you have done will make Camden better than it would have been. I remember Theo Blackwell’s alternative budgets that he pinched ideas from us year after year.”

She also acknowledged growing confidence in the Labour ranks that they may be able to wipe the opposition out of the council. According to figures in Hampstead and Kilburn Conservative Party, if the votes from the 2017 General Election are repeated, the Conservative group could be left with a rump on the council.

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“We do have elections coming up, and I know that they want to follow the lead of Islington. I really hope that [Labour] don’t. It is far better because we have been here,” she said.

In her letter to councillors on Friday January 27, Claire-Louise Leyland said that time spent with family over Christmas helped her make the decision.

Frognal and Fitzjohns councillor Gio Spinella has been nominated to take over from Cllr Leyland after the next Conservative branch meeting on Monday February 5. There is no indication that he will be challenged for the leadership.

Cllr Leyland stood unsuccessfully for Parliament twice while she was leader; in West Tyrone in Northern Ireland in 2015, and closer to home in Hampstead and Kilburn in 2017.