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Lib dems anger at being 'frozen out'

PUBLISHED: 23:23 18 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:52 03 March 2010

FURIOUS Liberal Democrats have accused Labour and the Tories at Civic Centre of running scared after being frozen out of official bodies.

The borough nominates its members to 239 posts on 90 working parties, service panels or outside bodies.

FURIOUS Liberal Democrats have accused Labour and the Tories at Civic Centre of running scared after being frozen out of official bodies.

The borough nominates its members to 239 posts on 90 working parties, service panels or outside bodies.

However the Liberal Democrats – who have five seats on the 48-member council – have been allocated just one post.

Lib Dem leader Inga Lockington has been given a place on the Ipswich Northern Fringe Community Selection Panel.

And today Mrs Lockington said the decision – with effectively no debate at the council's annual meeting – made a mockery of democracy.

"We have been pushed out in an old-fashioned carve-up by the two other parties," she said.

"The other parties have ignored the fact we won five seats and more than 25 per cent of the vote at the election. I feel very angry about it."

The membership of the groups was an item tagged on at the end of the borough's annual meeting – and the vote was taken after council leader Peter Gardiner said that meeting was not the forum for a political debate.

Today he said that the places were allocated to the Labour administration and opposition.

"It is up to the two opposition leaders to come up with their own lists to fill the opposition places – if the Liberals have a problem they should take it up with the Conservatives," he said.

However Tory leader Stephen Barker was unrepentant. "We've got more members than before and we wanted to ensure they had jobs.

"The Liberals never came and asked me for more places – but I was going to allocate them to our people anyway. That's my prerogative."

One of his members, however, dismissed the argument.

"These panels and working parties are useless, they never meet anyway," said Gordon Terry.

"There was a meeting of the borough development working group last month and it was the first time it had met for two years – they read out the minutes from 2001.

"And I'm a member of the Ipswich transport joint members group with the county – but that hasn't met for three years.

"There's no point in any of these, they never do anything."

But Liberal Democrat councillor Jane Chambers, who suffers from a disability, was furious about her exclusion from the Ipswich Access Group.

"I really would have thought it would make sense if there is a disabled councillor to sit on that group – but no, politics says that can't happen.

"What do those members know about living with a disability? Frankly it sucks," she said.

nDo you think it is right to exclude Liberal Democrats from council groups – or does it not make any difference. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk


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