Labour routed in Camden
THE Labour party in Camden is in tatters after a shocking defeat at the hands of the Liberal Democrats. At 4.20am, Labour, which held 36 seats in the last term, had been reduced to just 16 - with just the results of three seats in Bloomsbury
THE Labour party in Camden was in tatters this morning after a shocking defeat at the hands of the Liberal Democrats.At 4.20am, Labour, which held 36 seats in the last term, had been reduced to just 16 - with just the results of three seats in Bloomsbury to be announced. It is the first time in decades the party has not controlled Camden.Raj Chada has not only lost his place as Labour leader of the council, but has seen his Gospel Oak seat go to the Conservatives, who surprised even themselves by winning all three seats in the ward.The Lib Dems, who were in third place with seven councillors before last night, are now certain to be the largest group in the Town Hall chamber.And the Greens were also celebrating winning two seats in Highgate. The Conservatives so far hold 13 seats, two more than their 2002 result. But their leader Piers Wauchope lost his seat in Belsize Ward.The council now faces a period of uncertainty as no party commands an overall majority.A defeated Raj Chada said: "It is extremely disappointing. Camden Labour party has a great record and it is now a period of reflection. I hope the new council leadership, whoever they are, continue with our values."I've enjoyed being councillor of Gospel Oak and leader of the party and would wish the new leader the very best. It is too early to say what went wrong, but national issues did not assist us."Cllr Keith Moffitt, the Lib Dem leader, was ecstatic with his party's astonishing gains.He said: "It is a fantastic night for the Lib Dems. We are the largest group on the council. "We have been saying Labour is arrogant and people have had enough. It was time for a change."The Lib Dem leader refused to be drawn on which party he would look to form a coalition with. He said: "We are all going to get a good night's sleep and tomorrow take it easy. Saturday is our first group meeting and that is when we will make a decision at the very earliest. After 35 years of Labour in Camden, they have finally been broken. People have voted for change and they have voted positively."Among the biggest names to fall during the devastating night for Labour was Highgate councillor John Thane.Mr Thane, the man in charge of Camden's unpopular parking policy, has been a persistently bullish presence on the council.He said: "It is very disappointing, but in our ward we were prepared for it. National politics was against us."Speculating on who might form a coalition, he said: "It is unclear what will happen, but there will be a new deal between two parties. It is possible there will be a Tory-Labour pact, but it is most likely to be Lib Dem-Tory.