ANGELA Pober has released a statement for constituents in West Hampstead following the big news yesterday that she has quit the Camden Labour group. She makes accusations about how the Save The West Hampstead Library campaign has been run, suggesting the public were manipulated and people have known all along that it won’t close. Below is the full text of her statement released to the New Journal:
Dear Editor, West Hampstead and Camden Residents
This past weekend I took a very difficult personal and political decision. Having been a member of the Labour Party for over a decade and as a newly elected councillor I felt that the values and principles I shared with my Party had been irrevocably violated by tactics being used in local campaigning. The decision to quit the Labour Whip is mine to make, and it is grounded in my interpretation of my role as a councillor who is elected to represent West Hampstead people, where politics comes second to that duty to the public.
My decision was triggered by the Save West Hampstead library campaign. It has involved a petition signed by over 1500 people, numerous debates held at Residents’ Association meetings, tv interviews and a 2 hour public meeting called in the library itself attended by 70+ residents. However, I have been party to knowledge for weeks that the library was not going to be closed. Yet the campaign continued, it was one I had been told we, the Labour Councillors, would be given credit for ‘winning’ and it was make us ‘look good’. I alone felt that this was manipulating the residents for political gain and I could no longer reconcile this with my principles of working for the good of the people.
A Lymington Road resident told me that if the Councillor put equivalent effort behind other campaigns, such as those do to with West Hampstead planning issues, as they were doing to save the library then maybe the residents would have a chance of getting their voices heard at Council. I agree. There are plenty of real issues which demand my attention, they may be conducted away from the spotlight, they may not make me look good, or be popular, or gain me the positive reinforcement of Party colleagues that others crave, but I have a public role and I take that role seriously.
So what had happened since my decision was made public on the 14th Sept? I have been told that the rules state I have to resign from the Labour Party if I stay on as an independent councillor, I have been taken off the two financial and governance committees I sit on, I have been told that this was such a small issue I should have made more effort in speaking to Party colleagues to be persuaded not to resign, I have been told that I am not political enough to be a politician, and I have had a dystopian picture painted for me depicting the loneliness of being outside of the Labour Party in Camden Council where I would not have the Party friends I have now and I have been asked to reconsider.
So is there really such little benefit to being an independent councillor for the residents of West Hampstead in Camden Council?
Cllr Dr. Angela Pober
Independent Councillor for West Hampstead