Ipswich: Nigel taking over at the helm of borough council Lib Dems

NEW Liberal Democrat leader at Grafton House Nigel Cheeseman aims to give his small group a clear identity as it enters opposition.

For the last six-and-a-half years, the LibDems have been in coalition with the Conservatives running the borough.

But, with a majority Labour administration set to be confirmed at today’s annual council meeting, Mr Cheeseman is aiming to increase his party’s profile.

He said: “Over the last few years we have been in coalition here and as the party nationally is finding that means sometimes you have to reach agreement with your partners before agreeing a common line.

“Now we are on our own in opposition we should be able to make our own voice heard.

“I know it sounds a bit cliched but we will be looking to provide constructive opposition. If we agree with the administration we shall say so, but we shall be watching them closely.

“The Labour Party takes over a council that has been very well-run by the Tories and ourselves and we shall be trying to keep them on their toes.”

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Mr Cheeseman, 49, has been a councillor for Alexandra Ward since May last year – but he is a familiar face on the political scene in Ipswich.

He has been fighting council seats since the mid-1980s when he stood under the SDP-Liberal Alliance banner.

He knows he has to provide a distinctive voice – he won his seat in a by-election last year and will have to fight it again in May 2012, just 12 months after outgoing Lib Dem mayor Jane Chambers lost heavily there earlier this month.

A former publican, he lives with his partner Bex Robinson, who fought outgoing council leader Liz Harsant in the Holywells ward.

n In yesterday’s Evening Star we quoted St Margaret’s councillor Inga Lockington as the new leader of the Liberal Democrat group. We would like to apologise for the error.