Longstanding Camden Lib Dem leader Flick Rea ‘passes on the baton’, with Luisa Porritt taking over borough’s third party

Lib Dem leader Flick Rea in the kitchen of her Fortune Green home. She's standing in her eighth elec

Lib Dem leader Flick Rea in the kitchen of her Fortune Green home. She's standing in her eighth election since becoming a councillor in 1986 - Credit: Harry Taylor

Cllr Flick Rea will stand down as leader of the Liberal Democrats on Camden Council this evening, passing on the reigns to former MEP Luisa Porritt.

Cllr Rea brings her second spell as leader to an end, having fronted the party on the council since 2014. She first led her party in the council chamber from 1986 until 2005, when she stood down for Keith Moffitt. A year later the Lib Dems stormed to victory in the local elections and went on to run the town hall in coalition with the Conservative Party.

She praised the incoming leader and said passing over the baton, did not signal a departure from the council as a whole.

“Luisa is young and energetic, and I believe in encouraging young talent. Her experience of being an MEP will be useful, and she will be a welcome breath of fresh air and new ideas.”

“Whether I will stay on the council and how long I’ll carry on isn’t today’s issue. I’ll tell you when I’m going. But this is the time to hand over to someone who can inspire the party locally for the next election.”

READ MORE: Plant-based restaurant moves into old Hampstead Carluccio’s in Rosslyn HillIn her second spell as leader, Cllr Rea helped the party begin its long march back from the 2014 local elections result – which saw her as the last Liberal Democrat standing. In 2018 the party was boosted by the election of Cllr Porritt and Tom Simon in Belsize ward, tripling the number of Lib Dems.

The 83-year-old, of Agamemnon Road, said she was “relieved” to be able to pass the leadership on after much consideration, but would keep focussing on planning, environmental and transport issues from the backbenches. “Luisa has brought a huge new impetus so I’m delighted that someone good can take over. You should go when it’s time to go.”

The former actor often providing piercing criticisms of the Labour and Conservative parties, with her remarks offset by her wry humour.

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Cllr Porritt said she was “delighted” to take on the job, and added: “[Flick] has done a sterling job of leading us since the 2018 elections and has personally been a mentor to me. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of Camden and the council itself, so these are big shoes to fill but I am ready to step up.”