Leader of Camden Conservatives to quit Town Hall
Claire-Louise Leyland to focus on family and work
27 January, 2018 — By Richard Osley
THE leader of Camden’s Conservatives is to step down from the Town Hall ahead of the local council elections.
Claire-Louise Leyland said she wanted to focus on her family and work in a letter to council group colleagues.
“Over the Christmas break, I visited family and friends and had an opportunity to draw breath and reflect. I’m so grateful for how amazingly supportive my partner and my family have been of my work, in spite of the impact on their lives of the many evening meetings, weekend street stalls and holidays spent campaigning,” it said.
“I’ve realised that the time has come for me to take a break from public life and to focus more on my family and on my work. I will be stepping down as Leader of Camden Conservatives at the next group meeting and won’t be standing for re-election in May this year.”
She has nominated Councillor Gio Spinella to take over the reins at the next branch meeting, although will still lead the party for one last full council meeting on Monday night. Cllr Leyland, often referred to in Camden’s political circles simply as ‘CLL’, has been the leader of the opposition in Camden since 2013 and has run for parliament twice, most recently last year against Labour MP Tulip Siddiq in Hampstead and Kilburn. She was one of the councillors who worked through the night and over the following days during the Chalcot estate evacuation crisis.
Her letter said: “Being in Opposition isn’t easy, but I know that our combined efforts have changed the way Camden council operates, helped residents to see the choices than Camden Labour have made, and brought about service innovation that has made life better for local people.”
Cllr Leyland – who campaigned for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union – said: “For eight years as a councillor, five of those as Leader of Camden Conservatives, public service has been such a big part of my life. I’ve met so many amazing people across Camden, not least over the past summer when we all worked together night and day to support the residents in my ward during such a difficult time.”
Labour opponents were already whispering that Cllr Leyland’s departure was influenced in some way by the upcoming council elections where the ruling group expect to make even more gains following Ms Siddiq and Keir Starmer’s landslide victories last June. Conservatives, however, insist it was only natural for Cllr Leyland to be considering life choices after a long stretch in charge, and were pointing to Labour’s own former leader Sarah Hayward, who stepped down last year, as a similar example.
Cllr Spinella said: “Claire-Louise has been a committed councillor and a leader and we owe her an enormous debt of thanks. I’m fully aware of the huge shoes I will be stepping into, should I become leader.”
If two other councillors nominate an alternative leader, a contest for the role could open up.
Labour council leader Councillor Georgia Gould said: “We have very different politics but I have always found CLL to be someone of real integrity who cares deeply about Camden. When we faced an emergency in her ward she put party politics aside to put residents first. I’d like to thank her for her long service in Camden.”