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Labour vicar wins City seat

28 March 2014

A VICAR elected to the City of London's ancient Common Council has pledged to tackle an institution that "uses its immense resources to promote the interests of international finance capital, often at the expense of poor people".

The Revd William Campbell-Taylor, Vicar of St Thomas's, Stamford Hill, won the by-election for Portsoken, one of the City's 25 wards, standing as a Labour Party candidate, on Thursday of last week. "My interest as a ward councillor for Portsoken is that this system [should] serve the residents," Mr Campbell-Taylor said on Wednesday.

"It has two large housing estates, and they are in pretty poor condition, with overcrowding problems, with problems of security, cleanliness, vermin, and damp. They have basically been overlooked by their respective landlords, and I want to do what I can to ensure that they are looked after."

For several years, Mr Campbell-Taylor has campaigned for reform of the City of London. Last year, he supported the City Reform Group, which asked candidates standing for the Common Council to sign up to five pledges, which included: "We will recognise our responsibility to the common good."

The City of London is the local authority for the Square Mile, but is described on its website as having "a wide remit that goes beyondthat of an ordinary local authority". It "supports and promotes the City as the world leader in international finance and business services".

On Wednesday, Mr Campbell-Taylor said: "I think that the City of London could be a real force for good in our national life. It has deep roots; it has deep pockets; it has strong networks of associations connected with it, such as livery companies. It is a good example of civil society, but it has been captured by a single interest, and I would like those institutions to serve the consumers of the financial services, and serve the citizens of London, not just through charity."

Mr Campbell-Taylor has previously been a member of the Common Council, but as an Independent. Last week, he became the first party-political candidate to be elected to the Common Council, an event described by Professor Tony Travers, from the London School of Economics, as a "minor revolution".

Mr Campbell-Taylor said: "I know how hard it is to be a so-called Independent councillor in an institution whose focus is towards the promotion of London as a financial hub." Standing as a Labour candidate would help to "interrupt that consensus", he believed.

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