On streets, Highgate ward by-election candidates talk drugs, eco issues and rubbish

Party candidates put their policies to voters on their doorsteps as polling day approaches

Published: August 25, 2011

LABOUR’S by-election front-runner last night (Wednesday) warned that teenagers were dabbling in stronger drugs than cannabis in the Highgate ward.

And Sally Gimson, who will try to defend her party’s council seat in next month’s poll, said government plans to cut police numbers would not help stop youth ­disorder in the area.

She said she had been told that youngsters were in some cases graduating from cannabis to crack.

Ms Gimson said: “Highgate is not just about leafy streets, it is a large ward which has a lot more to it than just the village at Pond Square. It’s a grittier ward than that in some areas.

“What we are worried about, and what people we’ve talked to are worried about, is how people feel intimidated by groups of young people and how cuts to police numbers, especially neighbourhood teams, will do little to help that.”

She added: “The people in Highgate need somebody at the council who can influence policy and make a difference, not somebody poking around at the edges.”

Making anti-social behaviour one of the central points of her campaign is in sharp contrast to the Conservatives, who were last night talking about planning and conservation on the doorsteps.

While some of his colleagues were claiming that the by-election on September 15 would be the first test of Labour council policy since last year’s boroughwide elections, Tory candidate Tony Denyer said: “People are looking at cuts the council has made and thinking how is that going to help.

“They pay their council tax and they expect the basics in return: for rubbish to be taken away, for there to be a library for their children, for the area to be kept looking the way it should.”

Tory party members say the ward has 1,500 solid Conservative supporters, but the problem for their group is getting those voters to play their part in parochial politics. Canvassers said the holiday season meant many people were missing the campaign and poll.

There has been a nightly reminder too from Camden’s Green Party that this is not a straight fight between
the traditional rivals of Labour and Conservatives.

Green candidate Alexis Rowell, the former Liberal Democrat who is now a talisman for the local group, has been out on the streets with a Bag For Life and leaflets printed in environmentally friendly ink. And he has cheekily knocked at the home of Labour leader Ed Miliband, who lives in the ward, to ask him where his supporters were. “There’s not many more places to go, except the Greens, if you are a progressive,”  said Mr Rowell, who was joined on his doorknocks by London Assembly member Darren Johnson.

“I think it’s an important issue about Ed Miliband, because it would be quite something if he woke up on September 16 and found out he is living in a Green ward.

“I’m in politics for social justice – all the stuff the Labour Party used to do. I’ve lost faith in free market.

“I know I’ve got a tough fight on my hands – but I’m fired up. I think we could be on the cusp of something big for the Greens.”

The Liberal Democrats have announced Martin Hay as their candidate. The by-election was called after the resignation of Labour’s Michael Nicolaides.


If not in 2010, why now?

So why did Sally Gimson not stand for election in 2010, nor Martin Hay, nor
Alexis Rowell?

Sally Gimson knows Camden

Long-time resident Sally Gimson has been listening to the people of Camden for years, and she knows what it will take for the Council to get the changes needed to keep the streets safe and and community on the right track

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