IN DEPTH: Keith Moffitt - Lib Dems can take the Town Hall

Camden Council leader Keith Moffitt believes his Lib Dem party is in the ascendency and will gain that all-important majority in the local elections. The Lib Dems jumped from seven councillors to 20 in the last elections in 2006 and have w

Susanna Wilkey

Camden Council leader Keith Moffitt believes his Lib Dem party is in the ascendency and will gain that all-important majority in the local elections.

The Lib Dems jumped from seven councillors to 20 in the last elections in 2006 and have won another four in by-elections since.

Cllr Moffitt, the first openly gay Camden Council leader, says gaining another four seems very doable and believes his party's track record over the past four years will lead them to victory.


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He said: "The partnership between us and the Conservatives has been successful. But, for me, it is very important for the Lib Dems to have a majority on the council.

"Focusing on sustainability and local decision making is something we are looking to go further with.

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"In no way in Camden does it feel like Labour are about to come back. Lots of senior Labour councillors are standing down.

"The Lib Dems are the only party which can get overall control of this council. We have picked up four councillors in by-elections since the last election so we are clearly on an upward trajectory.

"But nobody should be complacent and we are working very hard."

Cllr Moffitt has been a councillor for West Hampstead since 1994 and leader since 2006.

He has promised to protect frontline services in the face of central government cuts. But he says the next four years will be tough for everyone in local government.

He said: "We are very proud of what we have done over the last four years, keeping council tax frozen for three out of the four years, and we want to keep it as low as possible and below the rate of inflation for the next year.

"It would be rash to make promises beyond that, such as the Conservatives are making, because no-one knows what is going to happen with central government funding.

"We are all assuming cuts in spending by central government.

"We have got a good track record of making efficiency savings and we will still do that while protecting frontline services.

"Treating people like grown-ups and helping them to have a say in what they think is a priority is going to be very important.

"It is going to be a tough time for public services and a tough time for councils.

"But it is important to make people aware of what councils do and the services they provide, such as looking after older people and making sure children are safe, because a lot of the time I don't think people are aware."

During his time on the council, Cllr Moffitt says the biggest frustration has been sustainability and a lack of power in the face problems such as transport closures and utility works.

He believes the Green party has been out-greened by the Lib Dems and has pledged to go further if his party is elected again.

Cllr Moffitt, a West Hampstead resident since 1977, is looking forward to the local and national elections possibly being held on the same day.

He believes a hung parliament is a real possibility, which is an exciting prospect for the Lib Dems.

A translator by profession, Cllr Moffitt stood in 2004 to become at MEP. But he says his political roots are in local politics.

He was inspired to stand by Fortune Green councillor Flick Rea who showed him what a community activist could do.

"Camden is an amazing and diverse place with so many fantastic institutions such as UCL and the British Museum," he said.

"It is a very exciting and rewarding place to be leader of. Alongside that, you have the role of ward councillor, which is a great job and really important to keep your feet on the ground.

"It will be a much more difficult time going forward, whoever wins the election, and there will be difficult choices to make.

"Having people like us who are experienced and can hit the ground running is very important.

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