Search

View from the chamber: Camden shouldn’t be a one-party state

PUBLISHED: 12:00 17 March 2018

Green Party

There is every danger that Haringey and Camden councils will end up as ‘one-party states’ after the May local elections, which would be very unhealthy for our local democracy.

Experts agree. The Electoral Reform Society estimates the cost to the public of councils with weak opposition at £2.6 billion a year. Transparency International have found that a council dominated by one party “creates a situation where there is much reduced accountability: the actions of councillors are not subject to the degree of scrutiny and criticism that would otherwise be provided.”

Few people would argue that one-party states are a good thing, but the decline of the Conservatives and Lib Dems in inner London shown by the recent YouGov local election poll, make it likely that Labour’s hold on our town halls will be strengthened in May in both Haringey and Camden. We might even see the complete takeover some Labour activists are working for, or get to a situation like that in Islington where, since 2014, the only opposition voice at all has been lone Green councillor Caroline Russell.

In Haringey there are currently 49 Labour councillors and just 8 Lib Dems. On Camden Council the Labour Party also has a huge majority: at the last election 40 Labour councillors were elected with only 14 from other parties, including me alongside two Labour councillors in my ward.

Haringey opposition councillors were vital in preventing the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) from being signed off in haste. In Camden I’ve been able to force the Labour administration to be more accountable on critical issues, such as getting the release of fire safety reports, and stronger measures to tackle polluted air.

People need a strong cohort of principled opposition councillors to speak up for them, check the numbers, put forward ideas, and raise questions about issues like air pollution and fire safety even when it’s uncomfortable for the administration. Only a decently balanced set of representatives can do that, but the council election system we have - which can be summed up as ‘first three past the post’ - means a real risk of monochrome, unchallenged council fiefdoms being elected in our part of London.

If we had a proportional system for council elections then, in Camden, the 16 per cent of Green votes in 2014, and the 15pc vote for the Lib Dems, would have elected eight councillors from each party. Instead we’ve had just me and Cllr Flick Rea sitting alone for our parties in the council chamber. As well as being bad for scrutiny, it leaves nearly a third of voters without a voice.

We will not have PR for the council elections this time either but, unlike for parliamentary elections, citizens do have three votes to cast for their wards. I urge people to think about using these votes to choose balance and accountability on the council, and help us all avoid the risks that one-party states can bring.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

16:15

Police are trying to find Nadia Ellewood, who has gone missing from Belsize Park.

13:35

Police chased a Volkswagen Polo across three boroughs on Monday morning after it crashed into a patrol car at low speed.

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Crouch End inventor is crowdfunding to launch an innovative and wearable air pollution monitor inspired by his own worries as a new dad.

Friday, December 7, 2018

British Transport Police are looking to speak to a man about three women being racially abused on an underground train.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Carlton Tavern could be reopened in April, nine months after the planning inspectorate told them to rebuild it.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Coffee isn’t the only thing Deniz Korkmaz is brewing up in Kentish Town.

Friday, December 7, 2018

We chat to five local designers and artists who tell us about the one thing they must have or do at home that puts them in the Christmas mood

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now