Published: 27 May 2010
by RICHARD OSLEY
THE Liberal Democrats held three seats in council elections on Tuesday and in the glow of victory insisted: “We haven’t let anybody down by dealing with the Tories.”
The party saw off a challenge from Labour in Haverstock, where elections were delayed for three weeks because of the death of Lib Dem councillor Syed Hoque during the campaign.
Lib Dem national President Baroness Ros Scott said: “This is a fantastic result. Labour was crowing that it would mop up votes from Lib Dem supporters who are supposedly upset about the coalition government. This results shows that was just arrogant nonsense.”
Labour regained control of the Town Hall on May 6 with the election of a majority, 30-member group in the rest of the borough’s wards, squeezing out the Lib Dems and Conservatives who ran the council in coalition for the past four years.
But their hopes of extending that lead were dashed by a Lib Dem trio headed by former mayor Jill Fraser.
The results were confirmed at a count in the Camden Centre, King’s Cross, which finished in the early hours of yesterday (Wednesday).
Haverstock was once strong Labour territory and the group was hoping to capitalise on what it saw as unease at the national coalition between the Lib Dems and Conservatives.
Best-placed candidate Sabrina Francis was just 35 votes off winning a seat. She has been urged to stand again in the future.
Labour council leader Councillor Nash Ali said: “The Lib Dems have held all three seats – so it’s well done to them. Now we have to move on. There is no time for bickering about why we won or lost. There are tough decisions to make and we want to work with all of the people who have been elected to the council for the good of Camden as a whole.”
He added: “It’s true there was a low turnout. If it had been higher, I am sure we would have won seats back in Haverstock. But, fair enough, they were elected and now we have to get down to work.”
Both sides – the only realistic contenders in the see-saw ward – had teams of more than 100 campaigners on the streets for the showdown.
Cllr Fraser, who gave Labour MP Frank Dobson a fright in the 2005 general election when she slashed his majority, was elected alongside Matt Sanders, another incumbent, and Rahel Bokth.
She said: “People know the Lib Dems will not let them down. If you looked at the council housing in Haverstock four years ago, it was close to being a slum. You say it’s controversial but we actually put in new kitchens and bathrooms. We’ve made a difference here.”
Cllr Sanders said the contest had been a “local election” and had not been swayed by cabinet deals struck in Downing Street.
He said: “There is nobody who would have been more pleased with this result than Syed Hoque and we wish he could be here with us to share this victory.
“He worked hard as a councillor for Haverstock and part of our victory is because of that. People may talk about the coalition that has formed nationally but when people look around in Haverstock, the Labour government did not do anything magical for the area in 13 years in power at all.”
Cllr Sanders added: “People voted here on local issues and for councillors who have worked hard for them. We won’t let them down and I can’t wait to get straight back to work for the ward.”