Re-elected Belsize councillor takes the Liberal Democrat lead

Belsize councillors Matthew Kirk, Judy Dixey and new Libdem leader Cllr Tom Simon 

Belsize councillors Matthew Kirk, Judy Dixey and new Libdem leader Cllr Tom Simon - Credit: Nathalie Raffray

Camden's new Liberal Democrat leader says he is under "no illusions" about the challenges ahead after his party became the official opposition on the council.

The Liberal Democrats won all three seats in Belsize on Friday morning (May 7). This meant that Conservative group leader Oliver Cooper, who had switched ward from Hampstead Town, failed to get re-elected.

One of the those Lib Dem councillors is Tom Simon, who lost his seat in 2014 before winning it back in 2018. He is now party leader in Camden, after Luisa Porritt decided not to stand again

Tom Simon. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Tom Simon. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

"We ran a very active campaign," Cllr Tom told the Ham&High. "Luisa and I have been very active as councillors and people in Belsize liked our messages and know that with Lib Dem councillors they get councillors who will work hard for them, will listen, will represent them in the council and will do a good job."

On Friday, Labour won a majority with 47 seats, with the Conservatives going down to three from seven, Liberal Democrats winning four, and the Green Party one.

"It's not going to be easier – there's no illusions about that – but if you look at our record of opposition over four years despite not being the main opposition group, what we tried to do then and what we'll continue to try and do, is be an opposition that is constructive and focus our efforts on actually achieving positive changes for Camden rather than scoring political points."

He said with just three councillors they made some "real differences" in the last term, including finding funding for 600 trees each year to be planted.

"We've been calling for them for some time and were told in 2018 it wasn't viable. I think we can claim that due to the pressure we that we kept up every year having our own amendments including this commitment, that got through."

With his deputy, Cllr Nancy Jirira, he said he and the Lib Dems will keep up the pressure to see homes insulated and repaired, to sort out waste collections in Fortune Green, and address homelessness.

Cllr Nancy Jirira held on to Fortune Green as the sole Liberal Democrat

Cllr Nancy Jirira held on to Fortune Green as the sole Liberal Democrat - Credit: Nathalie Raffray