London 2022 elections: Camden in the spotlight ahead of the crunch poll

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On May 5, voters in the UK will go to the polls to decide who will lead their local government.

With the vote just around the corner, the Standard takes a look at the big problems, key facts and political background in Labour-controlled Camden.

Main issues

One issue that could be a major factor in the upcoming election is that of delays in improvements at notoriously dangerous intersections in Holborn.

Eight cyclists have died at intersections near Holborn station since 2008, the most recent being last month. Lawyer Shatha Ali was killed in early March after a collision with a truck near the station. It came just months after the death of cyclist Dr. Marta Krawiec after a similar incident.

Camden Council has come under considerable pressure to make much-needed improvements to dangerous intersections in Holborn after plans outlined in 2019 never materialized. The improvements, which were to be funded and implemented in partnership with TfL, were postponed due to the impact of Covid-19 on TfL’s finances.

Elsewhere in the borough, candidates from all sides are likely to campaign on issues such as housing, jobs and the cost of living.

Read more: Follow the Standard’s coverage of the 2022 local elections

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Police and crime are also likely to be a major problem in areas such as Primrose Hill, where residents have complained of increasing antisocial behavior.

Details

Since its formation in 1964, Camden London Borough Council has remained largely under Labor control, except for one term where the Conservatives had a majority between 1968 and 1971 and between 2006 and 2010 where no party had an overall majority.

Ahead of this year’s election and following the Local Government Boundary Commission’s assessment published last year, the number of wards in Camden will increase from 18 to 20, while the number of council seats will increase by one to 55. Fifteen wards will be represented by three councilors each, while the remaining five wards will have two councilors each.

The 2018 local elections in Camden saw a poor return for the Conservatives, who lost five seats: three to Labor and two to the Lib Dems.

In all, Labor won 43 seats on Camden’s council in 2018, with the Conservatives winning seven, the Liberal Democrats three and the Greens one.

The turnout in 2018 was 37.3 percent, comparable to the turnout in previous elections.

The council is led by Labor’s Georgia Gould, who is also chairman of the cross-party London Councils group.

In June 2021, Camden Lib Dem, longtime Flick Rea, announced she was stepping down from the board after representing the Fortune Green division for 35 years. Lib Dem candidate Nancy Jirira retained the seat for her party in the ensuing by-election the following month.

Later that November, Labor councilor and deputy mayor Camden Lorna Russell defected to the Green Party, saying that Labor had “changed a lot”. Cllr Russell became the second Green Party councilor in Camden alongside former party leader Sian Berry.

That same month, Labor councilor Lazzaro Pietragnoli resigned after it was revealed that he had an anonymous Twitter account that he had used to attack colleagues on the council. His seat has remained vacant ever since.

Camden Council agreed to a 2.99 percent increase in the general council tax in February 2022, in line with many other London boroughs.

demographics

According to estimates by the Office for National Statistics as of mid-2020, Camden’s population was approximately 279,500, up from 220,338 as recorded in the 2011 Census.

Home to 11 London universities and educational institutions, Camden has a relatively high percentage of residents under 30 (37 percent), while only 15 percent of the borough’s population is made up of children under 18, compared to the London average of 21 percent.

While 38.8 percent of Camden’s population is of white British background, the borough is home to a large non-British white population (27 percent), which includes those of Irish and other European backgrounds.

The largest ethnic minority group in Camden is the Bengali community, which makes up 4.3 percent of the district’s population.

About 4 percent of the population has a black African background, while 1.4 percent consists of people of black Caribbean background.

According to Trust for London, approximately 32 percent of Camden’s population lives in poverty, which is considered average compared to other boroughs. Child poverty is slightly higher at 37 percent.

The unemployment rate in Camden is around 4.2 percent, which is better than average.

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