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Camden News - by TOM FOOT and PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 18 September 2008

Anya Reeve
‘Gloves are off’ in by-election battle

Coalition denies rift at the Town Hall as senior Tory brands Lib Dems ‘hypocrites’

THE leaders of the coalition running Camden denied a rift in their power-sharing deal as a senior Tory branded his Lib Dem colleagues “hypocrites” in the run-up to next Thursday’s Hampstead Town by-election.
“The gloves are off now,” Swiss Cottage Councillor Don Williams told the New Journal, as he claimed that local businesses were being betrayed by Lib Dem councillors.
“It is confusing – some would say hypocritical – to see Lib Dems putting out leaflets supporting local businesses but at the same time supporting a Tesco in Swiss Cottage,” he said, referring to the supermarket’s successful bid to open a store in Belsize Road.
“It is typical of what they do – say they are for the small man, for the residents, and then actually vote for what they want to do.”
The Conservatives and Lib Dems struck a coalition deal when the 2006 election defeat of Labour left no party with an overall majority, and senior figures in both parties have maintained a respectful unity ever since.
And although Cllr Williams, chairman of the influential licensing committee, is the most powerful Tory outside the cabinet, Lib Dem leader Councillor Keith Moffitt and Tory chief Andrew Marshall both played down his comments this week.
Cllr Moffitt said: “Don is quite territorial, but I think Camden residents appreciate the stability that this administration has provided.”
But the political temperature is undoubtedly raised by Thursday’s by-election in Hampstead Town, forced by the resignation of former Tory environment chief Councillor Mike Greene.
The Liberals – whose record since 2006 of winning two by-election seats from Labour contrasts favourably with the Conservatives’ one defeat to the Greens – have aggressively targeted the seat.
And Labour’s candidate for Hampstead Town, mother-of-two Larraine Revah, is emphasising the closeness of the ruling parties.
She said: “In this election, there is no choice between the Tories and Lib Dems. They are joined at the hip at the Town Hall.
“People are getting fed up with broken promises and the failure of the Lib Dem/Tory alliance to listen when they consult on issues which are important to us.”
The Gospel Oak resident added: “My passion is my local community, working hard to make it cleaner, greener and safer.”
Her main rivals have been canvassing hard.
Lib Dem hopeful Linda Chung, a governor at Hampstead Parochial School and chair of the Safer Neighbourhoods Panel, said: “As a councillor I would hope to play my part in keeping the streets clean, supporting traders and running an efficient organisation that does not squander council tax money.
“I don’t think enough has been done for Hampstead in the last two years. I want to make sure our villages are protected and I would campaign to strengthen the power of the council to safeguard local independent shops.”
Conservative candidate Stephen Phillips, a barrister and chair of governors at Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children, said: “I have been out on the doorsteps of Hampstead and what I am told is that there are concerns about the environment and what are called ‘garden grabs’, where people build house extensions in their gardens
“It is not just the scale of the developments, but the effect they have on the water-flow running all over Hampstead. I will fight for these issues and also for the Hampstead police station, which I believe is a very important issue in Hampstead.”
The Green Party candidate is Anya Reeve. She was brought up in Hampstead and went to school at Christ Church and Hampstead comprehensive. A former model and documentary film-maker, she works as a freelance camerawoman and assistant producer of programmes for the BBC and National Geographic.
She said: “It is obvious to me and, no doubt, to the many disillusioned voters, that the major parties have failed us miserably. I hope to foster the understanding that we need the Green Party to play a bigger role in our society.”
Steve Dorman, who lives in Swiss Cottage, is standing for the British National Party.

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