Why we want your vote in Highgate by-election
Candidates from all the main parties have been pounding the streets of Highgate in a bid to be elected on May 1, writes Katie Davies. The race may be overlooked by the bigger mayoral vote that day, but for these candidates it is Highgate which is the real
CANDIDATES from all the main parties have been pounding the streets of Highgate in a bid to be elected on May 1, writes Katie Davies.
The race may be overlooked by the bigger mayoral vote that day, but for these candidates it is Highgate which is the real battleground.
The by-election was called after councillor Paul Barton resigned over work pressures, with many criticising him after he rarely attended Town Hall meetings and only spoke once.
ALEX GOODMAN: GREEN
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Alex Goodman, 30, is the Green candidate and a planning and human rights barrister based at Gray's Inn. He stood in Kentish Town in the 2006 local elections and lives on the Whittington Estate.
"I hope, if I am elected as the third Green for Camden Council, I will just be a good ward councillor for Highgate," he said. "I want to be active, responding to residents' issues. Councillor Paul Barton was my representative and I was very disappointed with him. He was impossible to get hold of and that's what I would change.
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"I would push to improve the quality of services and facilities in the community - protecting and campaigning for the post office and the police station.
"I will make sure people in Highgate are well represented. For my work I have to know planning law inside and out and I hope to use that on the council. I represented the King's Cross Railway Lands Group on its judicial review of the development and I don't think the council understood the legal parameters when it passed that application."
RICHARD MERRIN: CONSERVATIVE
Tory Richard Merrin, 41, runs a PR agency. He previously stood for the Conservatives in Highgate at the 2006 local elections and at the Kentish Town by-election later that year. He lives in Countess Road.
He said: "In the village the main issue is the post office closure and I have been involved in all the demos on that. There is a lot of palpable anger about the behaviour of our MPs on it.
"Down around Highgate West Hill the main concern is the closure of the Kentish Town police station. This is the only cop shop in NW5 and I'm completely opposed to the closure.
"I am also very angry at what is happening at the Whittington Estate with the botched repair works and that's a priority for me. I have just secured some trees to be planted on the estate. I have also been given the confirmation from the party that I will be given a seat on the planning committee if I'm elected. I think it's really important that Highgate has a strong voice on the committee especially given the applications for Athlone House and Fitzroy Farm."
MICHAEL NICOLAIDES: LABOUR
Labour candidate Michael Nicolaides is 23 and training to be an accountant. He lives on Highgate Road and grew up on the Regent's Park Estate, attending William Ellis School. "I think it's very important that individuals take an active role in the community, I joined the party when I was 16 and I have been active since then," he said.
"One of the main issues in Highgate is housing. The Tories and Lib Dems have been auctioning off council homes when there is a huge shortage in the borough. It is really not acceptable as we need mixed communities throughout this borough.
"Another key issue is the green agenda which I think the Labour council had a strong record on. The other is youth services where the council has made cuts - Highgate Newtown is one service which has suffered.
"The Conservatives have lost the trust of residents in Highgate and Labour can hold them and the Lib Dems to account in the Town Hall."
HENRY POTTS:LIBERAL DEMOCRAT
Lib Dem candidate Henry Potts is a 37-year-old lecturer at the medical school at the Whittington hospital. He lives on Brookfield Park and grew up on the Holly Lodge Estate
He has stood in numerous elections and by-elections in the ward since his first attempt 16 years ago.
"The main issues this time around are the closure of the post office up in the village and Kentish Town police station," he said. "I want to preserve both of these vital local amenities. Two years ago Labour lost control of Camden Council and there is a lot still going on to change how Camden has been run.
"Highgate should have a voice in that. Back 16 years ago, there were only two Lib Dem councillors in Camden and running for the party was a pretty hopeless thing to do. Now we are the largest party in Camden and have won every Camden by-election since. We control neighbouring Islington and we won a recent by-election over the border in Haringey - these days we win elections and I am very much hoping we will win this one too.