New councillors enjoy the moment… before reality bites

COMMENT: The new recruits must now steel themselves for what is going to be one of the hardest four-year terms to be a councillor

Thursday, 5th May

camden council 5 Pancras Square Image 2021-02-24 at 14.37.51 (5)

‘The beaming faces at tonight’s coronation election will be short-lived, as the limits of our democracy are exposed’

THERE will no doubt be unrestrained shows of emotion at tonight’s election count as candidates learn whether the past few weeks of campaigning have finally paid off.

Have the smiling fresh faces joining the ranks at the Town Hall got overly caught-up in their own party’s propaganda?

They will soon to have to come good on the “issues” at stake during the recent electioneering – rising bills, anti-social behaviour, repairs, testing planning challenges and, of course, bin bags.

Whichever parties the new recruits represent they must now steel themselves for what is going to be one of the hardest four-year terms to be a councillor.

They are about to be confronted by the realities of the “cost of living crisis” that has been bandied around in political slogans in recent weeks. Queues of residents will be forming at surgeries needing help and with nowhere to turn.

The grants available will help but they will surely just be a drop in the ocean of problems about to engulf thousands of people’s lives in the coming years.

Debt brings with it all manner of associated problems as desperation and isolation take hold.

Some say being a councillor can make you more left-wing in the end, or at least appreciate a need for intervention and help.

The problems raised in political forums cannot be dismissed as fantasy or exaggeration when they are staring you in the face at a surgery on a Friday night.

Foodbank statistics have reached extraordinary highs. The pandemic shone a light on the extent of food poverty in Camden but, despite Covid being in retreat, the figures will continue to rise.

Nine thousand children in Camden, through referrals, used food banks last year. Residents from every ward in Camden have sought help from the Euston Foodbank alone.

And just when you think things cannot get more grim, we hear of an 80-year-old woman rationing toilet flushes to save money.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We live in one of the wealthiest, and yet most divided countries in the world where the comfortable and the well-off live cheek by jowl with the most desperate and disadvantaged.

The scandal of poverty in Camden has for too long been overlooked in meaningless debates about “inequalities” and “fairness”.

The reality of the issues at stake at this council election are so far removed from party politics.

The beaming faces at tonight’s coronation election will be short-lived, as the limits of our democracy are exposed. Enjoy the evening Class of 2022. Post your group selfies.

Then it’s time to come good on the interventions that have been promised to the residents who depend on you.

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