Vote 22: Community group's former chair ends long-term support for Labour

Swiss Cottage ward has mainly become the new South Hampstead territory

Friday, 8th April

peter symonds CRASH Image 2022-01-06 at 11.44.29 (1)

CRASH’s Peter Symonds says he can now say what he really thinks

MEMBERS of South Hampstead’s most influential community group has been urged to vote against Labour by its former chairman.

In a blistering email to members of Combined Residents Associations of South Hampstead (CRASH), Peter Symonds said for the first time he would not be voting for the party this time.

He said the council was showing “arrogance, contempt and indifference” towards residents and urged the group’s membership to “consider the opportunity May 5 provides for us all to vote not along habitual party lines”.

That is the day residents in Camden go to the polls to decide who runs the council for the next four years. Labour look almost certain to withhold power again.

Mr Symonds, who was chair of CRASH for a decade until 2020, said a “Labour stranglehold” on the Town Hall was leading to unethical decision-making, in particular the Deliveroo Editions “operation” in Finchley Road.


Mr Symonds said residents were “disgusted at our council’s repeated disregard for their concerns” over the delivery hub, adding: “While chair of CRASH I remained, like the association itself, resolutely non-political. Now, without that constraint, I can admit that I have always been a Labour voter.

“Yet my long experience of dealing with our council over planning issues convinces me that this Labour council no longer deserves our votes.

“Even my abhorrence of Boris Johnson and his dreadful government cannot persuade me to vote Labour in the local elections on May 5, and as the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have yet even to communicate with the local electorate at all, I have yet to decide exactly how I will vote.

Mr Symonds added: “What I will do is to cast my vote to try to achieve a coalition council or one which has no overall majority, in the hope that future planning decisions might be determined on the basis of facts and fairness …”

Every resident and neighbourhood group in South Hampstead has objected to the application from Deliveroo in a 146-page report. Despite this, the application is recommended for approval by Camden council officers tonight (Thursday).

Camden has allowed the company to operate from the site for more than two years on a trial basis.

Mr Symonds added: “I suggest that Labour’s absolute majority on Camden Council has led to arrogance,  contempt and indifference to the concerns and needs of residents.”

He praised the three ward councillors in the Swiss Cottage ward, which under boundary changes is largely becoming the new South Hampstead voting district.

Here Labour councillor Leo Cassarani was blocked from standing again by the party at the interview stage because he asked for more scrutiny on a develop­ment in Camley Street.

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