As leader of Camden council, I made Camden a Living Wage borough and pioneered a minimum income guarantee for council employees. I am proud that Camden is the largest builder of council housing in the country. Camden Labour is making a difference to people’s lives in many different ways.
I have led Camden’s campaign that changed national policy on High Speed Two. I’ve represented Camden in Parliament and on national media like Newsnight. I championed 25 hours of free childcare and the London Living Wage in Camden – both are now national Labour Party policy.
If I’m honest with myself I enjoy a good political fight and campaigning is important, but not for its own sake … because of what we do when we win. Camden Labour is innovating to protect our communities from the worst excesses of the Tories. And we’re delivering.
I am leader of Camden Council. I first moved to the borough nearly 20 years ago. Having been subjected to the private rented sector for a very long time, I now live in Kentish Town with my husband Dan.
I’ve worked in the public, private and voluntary sectors. I’ve experience of everything from the NHS, Defence, Criminal Justice to supermarkets and publishing.
I was elected to Camden Council in 2010, entering the Cabinet as lead member for Communities, Regeneration and Equalities. I was elected leader of the Council in 2012.
I don’t come from a Labour family so my values weren’t handed down to me. They are a direct result of my early experiences. My parents divorced while I was still in primary school and my mum bought up three kids on her own.
In Thatcher’s Britain it was OK for her ministers and MPs to take pot shots at single parents and their kids. But I’d done nothing wrong. My mum had done nothing wrong.
This deep sense of injustice lives with me today. I’m passionate about equality, and fighting the scourge of low wages because of my childhood experiences. The welfare state is an essential lifeline and one we must preserve.
I have changed national policy on High Speed Two. I made Camden a Living Wage borough and pioneered a minimum income guarantee for council employees.
I championed Camden’s policy of providing 25 hours of free childcare – a policy now adopted by the national Labour Party. I also made Camden the country’s first TimeWise council. This means that all Council jobs are now advertised as fully flexible and no request has been turned down – meaning parents, particularly mums, are able to work around childcare commitments.
I am proud that Camden is the largest builder of council housing in the country. We have also increased council tax on second and empty homes while freezing it for everyone else.
“I would be the last person in the world to try to argue that I know better than the right hon. Gentleman [Frank Dobson, MP] about the concerns and aspirations of the people in the area around Euston station. Indeed, when he and I met, we were joined by Sarah Hayward, the leader of Camden council—I have to admit that I am a little frightened of her—who set out similar concerns in no uncertain terms. Indeed, I am pleased that we have managed to secure social housing provision to replace some of the housing that will need to be demolished. “
9 September, 2014, Hansard Column 813