On May 3 1979 Margaret Thatcher moved into 10 Downing Street . . . and Peter Gardiner took his place on Ipswich Borough Council.

The age of Thatcherism might be long over, but Mr Gardiner, 77, is still a leading member of the council - with a key role in planning.

He's been mayor and council leader - and a member of the council's planning committee for most of his time on the authority.

Ipswich Star: Peter Gardiner's first official council photograph from 1979.Peter Gardiner's first official council photograph from 1979. (Image: Ipswich Borough Council)

At this week's annual meeting and Mayor Making Mr Gardiner was presented with a certificate to mark his 45 years as a councillor - but he doubts whether he will get one to mark his 50th anniversary in five years' time.

He said: "There have been a lot of changes over the last 45 years, especially in the Waterfront area which has really been transformed.

"There are still things that need to be done and it is a pity some of the plans haven't been completed because businesses have gone under, but it is still a work in progress."

During his early years there was more government support for councils and major projects like the building of Crown Pools went ahead.

He was mayor relatively early during his council career, in 1984/5 - but he's never thought of trying for a second term.

Mr Gardiner said: "I take the old fashioned view that if you're fortunate enough to have done the job once and there are others who haven't done it who want the chance, then you shouldn't get in their way.

"But I really enjoyed the year - I was quite young to be mayor and I think it was the first time for many years that a mayor had young children but it was very good to involve them in the events."

Ipswich Star: Peter Gardiner and his wife Susan met Gene Pitney at what is now the Ipswich Regent.Peter Gardiner and his wife Susan met Gene Pitney at what is now the Ipswich Regent. (Image: Newsquest)

One of the highlights of his year as mayor was meeting American star Gene Pitney at what is now the Ipswich Regent.

He was leader of the council from 1997-2004 - the first time since the mid-70s when Ipswich had a Labour council during a Labour government.

Labour was in opposition to a Conservative//Liberal Democrat coalition for seven years and when the party regained power Mr Gardiner became chair of the planning and development committee, a post he still holds.

But he isn't sure he will be standing again: "There are all-out elections on new boundaries in 2026. I don't think I'll be likely to be seeking another term then."