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London elections 2022: Spotlight on Camden ahead of crunch poll

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n May 5, voters across the UK will head to the polls to decide who will run their local authority.

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

Key Issues

One issue which may be an important factor in the upcoming election is that of delays to improvements at notoriously dangerous junctions in Holborn.

Since 2008, eight cyclists have died at junctions near Holborn station, the most recent of which occurred just last month. Lawyer Shatha Ali was killed following a collision with a lorry near the station at the beginning of March. It came just months after the death of cyclist Dr Marta Krawiec following a similar incident.

Camden Council has come under significant pressure to carry out much-needed improvements to dangerous intersections in Holborn after plans outlined in 2019 never materialised. The improvements, which were to be funded and carried out in partnership with TfL, were put on hold due to the impact of Covid-19 on TfL’s finances.

Elsewhere in the borough, candidates from all parties are likely to campaign on issues including housing, jobs and the cost of living crisis.

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

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Policing and crime is also likely to be an important issue in areas such as Primrose Hill, where residents have complained about increases in anti-social behaviour.

Details

Since its formation in 1964, Camden London Borough Council has largely remained under Labour control other than 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 elections and following the Local Government Boundary Commission review published last year, the number of wards in Camden will increase from 18 to 20 while the number of seats on the council will increase by one to 55. Fifteen wards will be represented by three councillors each while the remaining five wards will have two councillors each.

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

Overall, Labour won 43 seats on Camden council in 2018 while the Conservatives won seven, the Liberal Democrats won three and the Greens won one.

Voter turnout in 2018 was 37.3 per cent, similar to turnouts at previous elections.

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

In June 2021, Camden Lib Dem stalwart Flick Rea announced that she was stepping down from the council having represented the Fortune Green ward for 35 years. Lib Dem candidate Nancy Jirira retained the seat for her party at the subsequent by-election the following month.

Later that year in November, Labour councillor and deputy mayor for Camden Lorna Russell defected to the Green Party, having said Labour had “changed a lot”. Cllr Russell became the second Green Party councillor in Camden alongside former party co-leader Sian Berry.

That same month, Labour councillor Lazzaro Pietragnoli resigned after it emerged he had been running an anonymous Twitter account which he had used to attack colleagues on the council. His seat has remained vacant since.

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

Demographics

Office for National Statistics estimates from mid-2020 put Camden’s population at around 279,500, an increase from 220,338 as recorded in the 2011 Census.

Home to 11 of London’s universities and teaching institutions, Camden has a relatively high proportion of residents under the age of 30 (37 per cent), while just 15 per cent of the borough’s population is made up of children under the age of 18, compared to the London average of 21 per cent.

While 38.8 per cent of Camden’s population belongs to a White British background, the borough is home to a large non-British White population (27 per cent) which includes people from Irish and other European backgrounds.

The largest minority ethnic group in Camden is the Bangladeshi community, which makes up 4.3 per cent of the borough’s population.

Around 4 per cent of the population is from a Black African background while 1.4 per cent is made up of those from Black Caribbean backgrounds.

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

Unemployment in Camden is at around 4.2 per cent, which is better than average.

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