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Will late Corbyn convert Georgia embrace his policies too?

13 October, 2017

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould

GEORGIA Gould’s conversion to Jeremy Corbyn will no doubt be welcomed by the many, not the few.

Having backed Liz Kendall, perhaps the most right-wing, or Blairite candidate in the 2015 Labour leadership contest, Camden Council’s leader is now, two years on, wholeheartedly backing Mr Corbyn to be the country’s next prime minister.

The political landscape has, of course, changed dramatically since then, and openly voiced dissent against Corbyn from his Labour Party colleagues is now muted.

But we wonder how Cllr Gould’s new declaration of support for Mr Corbyn will affect the council’s controversial Community Investment Programme (CIP).

Mr Corbyn, at the party conference in Brighton, vowed that – after Grenfell – Labour had to think again about the way it handled regeneration schemes. They should not seek to benefit private developers or property speculators, or foist gentrification upon tenants and leaseholders.

Crucially, according to the Corbyn plan, councils would, in the future, have to win a ballot of existing tenants and leaseholders before any regeneration scheme was approved.

Several estates in Camden are being transformed under the CIP policy, the brainchild of Theo Blackwell, who has recently departed to join the London Mayor at City Hall.

With Mr Corbyn in Downing Street, CIP schemes, such as the one in Somers Town and Swiss Cottage for example, would be likely to be put to a public vote.

There is no doubt there is a thirst for an end to the current tick-box culture that ushers in so-called public consultations, where public opinion is often routinely ignored and, worse still, downright opposed.

Haringey Council, which has recently launched a highly controversial regeneration project with a developer, appears to be resistant to the Corbyn idea of compulsory ballots of tenants and leaseholders.

Other councils, however, seem to be more amenable to the idea. No word yet from Cllr Gould, or her recently appointed cabinet member for “better homes”, Meric Apak.

In the meantime, a viewpoint is gathering steam among the borough’s rejuvenated Labour Party membership that there should be a tightening up of the wording of the “conflict of interest” declarations councillors are expected to make. These arise when councillors believe there may be a “conflict” between their “personal” situation, arising out of their employment, domestic circumstances or contact with third parties, that may affect the matter to be put to the vote.

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