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One-speech Tory councillor quits after two years

PUBLISHED: 16:05 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:53 07 September 2010

A Camden councillor with a Houdini-like presence in the Town Hall and his Highgate constituency has stepped down after two years. Tory councillor Paul Barton handed in his resignation on Monday after mounting complaints from Highgate resident

Katie Davies

A Camden councillor with a Houdini-like presence in the Town Hall and his Highgate constituency has stepped down after two years.

Tory councillor Paul Barton handed in his resignation on Monday after mounting complaints from Highgate residents that he wasn't turning up for council or constituency work.

The departure of the councillor, who has only given one speech in his two-year council career, has led to the scheduling of a by-election for May 1.

Notably the former politician was unavailable to comment, but colleagues acknowledged that it was his work commitments which forced him to drop his public role.

Camden's Conservative party leader Andrew Marshall said: "There's no big secret that Paul works in the City and his work commitments have recently increased - that's why he's going. We will be fighting very hard to make it another Conservative win at the by-election."

However, other parties were less forgiving of the councillor and his Invisible Man credentials.

Labour party spokesman Theo Blackwell said: "He made one speech so his contribution was by no means fundamental to the running of Camden. Parties should select candidates who want to do the job."

He was elected alongside two Green politicians, Maya De Souza and Adrian Oliver, for the ward in the 2006 poll.

Cracks began to show earlier this year when the Bank of America trader stood down as a governor of Brookfield primary school in Dartmouth Park because he kept missing meetings.

Green party spokesman Adrian Oliver said: "In meetings like the area forums, people were complaining that he was difficult to get hold of. People were noticing and getting annoyed.

"We are selecting our candidate later this week and Maya and I have done a lot of work in the community in comparison. I think we will win this seat."

The Tories have vowed to show their commitment though, already selecting Richard Merrin, who also ran in 2006, to fight the seat. Other parties will hold selection processes in the next two weeks.

The vote on May 1 will coincide with the London Mayoral elections. A by-election was held on the Haringey side of Highgate last month after the resignation of Liberal Democrat Justin Portess.

The Lib Dems held onto the seat, with the election of Rachel Allison.

katie.davies@hamhigh.co.uk

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