Haven’t we seen you somewhere before…

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FIVE public deputations walked through the Town Hall door on Monday night, and for a moment all the warnings we’ve rehearsed on these pages about the lack of public engagement at Camden’s flawed full council meetings seemed to have been stuff and nonsense. They had come, the people had actually come to speak in front of the councillors.

Yet when two women billing themselves simply as two local residents worried about fly-tipping in West Hampstead had finished their complaints, there was a collective ock aye from the ruling Labour benches and the full compendium of arched eyebrows. Lib Dem Flick Rea took this palpable whiff of suspicion further with a comment, rich in sarcasm, about wondering why there was a sudden interest in the west of the borough.

cvxvzebxgaelcfzWhile Chantelle de Villiers, pictured above, had been talking about the obstacle course of rubbish she defeats each day to get to the station, councillors were looking her up on their mobile phones to find a Linked In profile revealing employment with a Tory MP.

Further growly sneers were emitted when they discovered that Ms de Villiers has campaigned locally for the Tories, who, you know this already, have made West Hampstead an election target and fly-tipping an issue with which to take on the council’s Labour leaders.

Her fellow deputy, Helen Harris, had similar results from a blast on Google. ‘These people are future Conservative councillors or at least candidates!, the sceptics What’s Apped to each under their desks. ‘Maybe CdV will be the next CLL’, said one Labour councillor.

The Tories retaliated to this stoogey innuendo with short and snappy answers at the end of the meeting: “They are residents. They are concerned by fly-tipping. What’s wrong with them coming to say that at the council meeting? It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do.”

It’s true that we would have nobody at all coming to these drab, point-scoring sessions in the chamber if anybody who had a political affiliation was banned from making public deputations without declaring them first. Liberal Democrat election candidates left it late to reveal their party allegiances during the the Prince of Wales swimming baths campaign ahead of the 2006 local elections, unveiling yellow rosettes just in time to briefly win seats in Kentish Town.

cvehlcxwiaa7mmpLabour, meanwhile, has supporters stacked in community groups who sometimes appear at meetings knocking central government policies while rarely criticising local Town hall strategy,

On Monday, CdV – definitely not a stooge – told the room: ‘“I wouldn’t want to get into party politics. I’m just a resident. I walk down West End Lane pretty much every day and I’m having to walk over these piles of bin bags.”

But the corridor tipsters were already opening an imaginary book on whether getting into party politics is exactly what she will want to do in a couple of years. Time will tell whether we see CdV in this room again, on the green benches. Some of the older councillors, after all, are already talking about passing their seats to younger recruits in 2018.

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7 Comments on Haven’t we seen you somewhere before…

  1. Chris Knight // November 25, 2016 at 9:47 am // Reply

    No matter what their political views are and despite Labours “growly sneers” take a walk around the area and see for yourself what these ladies are saying, it tells me that the local Labour Councillors have their collective heads in the clouds and need to lower them to pavement level!

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  2. ‘Rarely knocking Town Hall strategy’!

    Give some community activists a bit of credit, Richard.

    It’s the time of year when we might at least expect a bit of charity.

    The truth of the matter is some of us are waiting for Jeremy Corbyn to be elected our next Prime Minister to at least get some reality (and action!) back into these prehistoric dens of Christ knows what….

    By the way, the streets are definitely looking a bit in need of some serious TLC.

    Danny Rose

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  3. Chris Knight // November 28, 2016 at 8:43 pm // Reply

    Well Well Theo, that simply won’t do! If the local Labour Cllrs had informed the Council Officers of the rubbish problems then they would have dealt with, Labour inherited a clean and well organised service, so whats changed that? I’ll tell you 6 years of Labours reorganisation of officers. Not being able to clear rubbish in the streets bring this well known phrase or saying to the forefront “Piss up in a brewery” think about it.
    PS Always nice to hear from you.
    Best
    Chris

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    • Likewise Chris.

      Camden council can always do a better job, and some areas have been hit by flytipping and people dumping stuff – parts of Camden have seen really high turnover – caused by high rents etc. However, satisfaction with street cleaning is actually higher than in your days and there are more and easier ways for residents & cllrs to report concerns than ever before.

      Reporting rubbish is everyone’s duty – just as it is the council’s duty to provide a good service & respond quickly when things appear or are missed. We all want Camden to be clean but I get the impression sometimes that the Camden Conservatives are speaking out against personal responsibility and are a bit ‘nanny state.’

      I do feel that not changing the contract in 2009 was a missed opportunity – the then administration clearly put it in the ‘too difficult’ box.

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  4. By law, pavements are ONLY for walking on, not for depositing rubbish sacks or anything else. The Council is therefore breaking the law with its time-banded commercial waste arrangements which allow for shops and restaurants to leave their rubbish on the streets for collection.

    The following article from the ‘Clean Highways’ website clearly sets out the legal position:

    http://www.cleanhighways.co.uk/local-authorities/council-sponsored-fly-tipping

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