Camden London Borough Council
Council logo
Type
Type
Leadership
Mayor of Camden
Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust, Labour
since 15 May 2019
Leader of the Council
Cllr Georgia Gould, Labour
since May 2017
Leader of the Opposition
Cllr Oliver Cooper, Conservative
since May 2018
Chief executive
Jenny Rowlands
since March 2019
Structure
Seats54 councillors in 18 wards
Political groups
Administration (43)
  •   Labour (43)

Opposition (11)

Length of term
Whole council elected every four years
Elections
First past the post
Last election
3 May 2018
Next election
5 May 2022
Meeting place
Camden Town Hall, Judd Street
Website
www.camden.gov.uk

Camden London Borough Council is the local authority for the London Borough of Camden in Greater London, England. It is a London borough council, one of 32 in the United Kingdom capital of London. Camden is divided into 18 wards, each electing three councillors.

Following the 2018 election Camden London Borough Council comprises 43 Labour Party councillors, 7 Conservative Party councillors, 3 Liberal Democrat councillors and one for the Green Party.

The council was created by the London Government Act 1963 and replaced three local authorities: Hampstead Metropolitan Borough Council, Holborn Metropolitan Borough Council and St Pancras Metropolitan Borough Council.

History

There have previously been a number of local authorities responsible for the Camden area. The current local authority was first elected in 1964, a year before formally coming into its powers and prior to the creation of the London Borough of Camden on 1 April 1965. Camden London Borough Council replaced Hampstead Metropolitan Borough Council, Holborn Metropolitan Borough Council and St Pancras Metropolitan Borough Council. All three had been created in 1900, in Hamptead and St Pancras the borough councils replaced the parish vestries, and in Holborn the metropolitan borough council replaced the Holborn District Board of Works and the St Giles District Board of Works.[1]

It was envisaged that through the London Government Act 1963 Camden as a London local authority would share power with the Greater London Council. The split of powers and functions meant that the Greater London Council was responsible for "wide area" services such as fire, ambulance, flood prevention, and refuse disposal; with the local authorities responsible for "personal" services such as social care, libraries, cemeteries and refuse collection. This arrangement lasted until 1986 when Camden London Borough Council gained responsibility for some services that had been provided by the Greater London Council, such as waste disposal. Camden became an education authority in 1990. Since 2000 the Greater London Authority has taken some responsibility for highways and planning control from the council, but within the English local government system the council remains a "most purpose" authority in terms of the available range of powers and functions.[2]

In 2012 it was revealed that Camden local authority has been permanently banned from accessing information from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. This information is normally made available to local authorities for purposes such as enforcing parking fines, but access can be withdrawn if they are found to be mis-using the service. The Big Brother Watch organisation, which obtained the information about the ban under a Freedom of Information request, claimed that "the public are right to be worried that their privacy is at risk across a range of government services."[3]

Summary results of elections

Main article: Camden local elections

Since 1964 political control of the council has been held by the following parties:[4]

Party in control Years
Labour 1964–1968
Conservative 1968–1971
Labour 1971–2006
No overall control Liberal Democrats-Conservative minority 2006–2010
Labour 2010–present

Powers and functions

The local authority derives its powers and functions from the London Government Act 1963 and subsequent legislation, and has the powers and functions of a London borough council. It sets council tax and as a billing authority also collects precepts for Greater London Authority functions and business rates.[5] It sets planning policies which complement Greater London Authority and national policies, and decides on almost all planning applications accordingly. It is a local education authority and is also responsible for council housing, social services, libraries, waste collection and disposal, traffic, and most roads and environmental health.[6]

Wards

A map showing the wards of Camden since 2002
A map showing the wards of Camden since 2002

Since May 2002 the electoral wards in Camden are Belsize, Bloomsbury, Camden Town with Primrose Hill, Cantelowes, Fortune Green, Frognal and Fitzjohns, Gospel Oak, Hampstead Town, Haverstock, Highgate, Holborn and Covent Garden, Kentish Town, Kilburn, King's Cross, Regent's Park, St Pancras and Somers Town, Swiss Cottage and West Hampstead.[7]

Criticisms

Costs and controversies regarding Cllr. Eslamdoust's mayoral party

Camden Council was criticised for "excessive spending" after £11,000 of public funds was spent on a private party to welcome the new mayor for 2019/20 Cllr. Maryam Eslamdoust. After a Freedom of Information request, local newspaper Ham and High reported on 24 June 2019 that there had been 220 invited guests with £4,400 spent on food; £600 on drinks [up from £148 for drinks at the previous year's equivalent event]; £2,000 on decor design; £1,000 on lighting and staff; and £1,233 on hiring some space at a Camden Council occupied building. The newspaper quoted criticisms of the costs by “councillors of all political parties ... including some inside the ruling Labour group”. One councillor reportedly said "It looked like no expense had been spared" and another that “clearly socialism starts at home and socialists have very expensive tastes.”[8]

Two days after that article was published, the Ham and High reported the new mayor had sent a "nearly 600 word email" to 40 members of the council's Labour group, saying that they had "disrespected" her by their strength of criticism of the council's spending. The newspaper reported Cllr Eslamdoust had also criticised her colleagues for briefing "multiple false stories", for "spreading nasty rumours" about her and for "turning up in sloppy clothing" to her welcome party.[9]

The first Ham & High article (on 24 June 2019) was initially accompanied by a cartoon by a Camden resident and regular newspaper contributor, depicting Cllr. Eslamdoust and her husband, Labour councillor Thomas Gardiner, holding glasses at a party, with champagne corks popping around them, and a guest at the party saying "We've always said we're anti-austerity and you can't get more anti-austerity than this". Following this, Cllr. Eslamdoust, backed by the Labour party, wrote to the newspaper and accused it of being “offensive, Islamophobic, misogynist and sexist” because, being pregnant and a Muslim, she would not drink alcohol.  The newspaper said it had been "ignorant" and printed an apology. Private Eye magazine commented her reaction seemed 'extreme' as the focus of the cartoon had been spending by a Labour-led council, and it had emailed Cllr. Eslamdoust to ask whether she was a practising Muslim and if she ever drank alcohol, to which she didn't reply.[10] In September 2019, Eslamdoust tweeted a 30 second video of a nightclub showing many men and women dancing closely together, a number of whom holding what appears to be pint glasses of beer and the message: “Our CLP [Constituency Labour Party] chair is better than yours…. Katherine B.[ligh] out at a club sometime after 2am.  #Lab19”.[11] In July 2020, Eslamdoust 'loved' a tweet of her drinking what appears to be a glass of wine.[12]

Local Employment Scandal

Following a series of Freedom of Information requests, it was discovered that only 16% of Camden's employees live within the borough itself,[13] and that many of its employees live as far afield as Scotland and Northern Ireland.[14]

It was also discovered that senior employees were more likely to live further away from Camden, with a spokesperson saying that finding employees with specialised skillsets near to the borough was 'almost impossible'. Camden stated in response that all their staff are provided with one day's extra leave for volunteering, with a 'focus on Camden'.[14]

Statistics also showed that only a single employee lived in Camden's three Central London wards, despite comprising almost a quarter of the borough's size and population.[13]

List of Leaders

References

  1. ^ Youngs, Frederic (1979). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England. I: Southern England. London: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0-901050-67-9.
  2. ^ Leach, Steve (1998). Local Government Reorganisation: The Review and its Aftermath. Routledge. p. 107. ISBN 978-0714648590.
  3. ^ "DVLA bans councils from database over abuses", BBC News, 8 December 2012, retrieved 9 December 2012
  4. ^ "Camden". BBC News Online. 19 April 2009. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  5. ^ "Council Tax and Business Rates Billing Authorities". Council Tax Rates. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  6. ^ "Local Plan Responses – within and outside London". Mayor of London. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Camden government Web site, election results with list of wards". Archived from the original on 2012-06-03. Retrieved 2012-10-31.
  8. ^ Taylor, Harry (June 24, 2019). "Bill for Camden Council's mayor making reception soars to £11,000 as councillors from all parties criticise 'excessive spending'". Hampstead Highgate Express.
  9. ^ Taylor, Harry (June 28, 2019). "Camden's mayor hits back at criticism of council over cost of reception, accusing colleagues of misogynistic bullying". Hampstead Highgate Express.
  10. ^ Private Eye, Issue 1501, p.18
  11. ^ "Twitter @MEslamdoust".
  12. ^ "Twitter".
  13. ^ a b "Camden: The Non-Local Authority". May 6, 2020.
  14. ^ a b "Top ranked council staff live miles away from Camden". Camden New Journal.