Jonathan Fryer

Camden One Year On

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 22nd May, 2007

ben-rawlings.jpgjanet-grauberg.jpgjill-fraser.jpgAnne Sofer — who represented St Pancras North on the old GLC, first for Labour, and then for the SDP — hosted a feedback and feed-the-troops event at her home in Primrose Hill this evening, to celebrate one year of LibDem-led control of Camden Council — perhaps the greatest shock of the 2006 London local elections, as least as far as the media were concerned. A trio of leading figures from the new administration gave presentations and answered questions: Jill Fraser (who has just finished her term as the first LibDem Mayor in the Borough’s history), Janet Grauberg (Executive Member for Resources — i.e. setting Council Tax inter alia), and Ben Rawlings (Executive Member for Community Safety).

They’re amongst the most high profile portfolios in local government and not surprisingly have attracted a lot of media attention over the past 12 months — in which the LibDems have had to make the transition from favoured opposition to the people now in control — and therefore under close scrutiny, and occasionally attack. This sort of situation often comes as something of a shock to parties which have enjoyed years of sniping at those in power, often with a supportive press, only to find themselves suddenly on the other side of the fence. Anyway, the Camden LibDems stuck to their guns, and with their Conservative junior partners honoured their manifesto commitment not to increase the local element of council tax (there was nothing they could do about Ken Livingstone’s increased London precept). Accordingly, some cuts have been made, which inevitably has raised hackles in some quarters. What the electorate thinks of all this should be clearer after the 12 July Haverstock ward by-election, caused by the resignation of a veteran Labour councillor. Jill Fraser herself was elected in a by-election in Haverstock, so the local party will be pulling out all the stops to repeat that success.

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