Lib Dems in Redbridge ‘have a voice’ despite town hall coalition

“We are fighting our own corner” is the message from the Liberal Democrats this week, as they insist their coalition with the Conservatives in Redbridge is not weakening their position as a stand alone party.

While nationally the Liberal Democrat Party took a hammering in last week’s council elections, leaving it facing criticism for being too cosy with its coalition partner, Redbridge’s coalition is bucking the trend.

Speaking to the Recorder a year after the coalition was formed, Liberal Democrat group leader and deputy council leader Cllr Ian Bond said: “Our group is making a difference in Redbridge.

“When you look at where the council was two years ago, things are so much better now.

“We’re fighting our corner and we’re fairly robust in arguing our points.”

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He added: “The biggest advantage [of the coalition] is there are fewer stupid decisions, like trying to sell the allotments.

“There are more people involved and more discussions and views heard which can only be a good thing.”

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He pinpointed the budget, which was presented to the council earlier this year, as an example of successful working between the two parties.

Speaking of the criticism levelled at Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg in the last week, Cllr Bond said: “I can identify with some of the challenges.

“Obviously he is under more media scrutiny but I can identify with him.”

Redbridge’s coalition was formed after last year’s election failed to produce an overall winner, with 30 Conservatives, seven Liberal Democrats and 25 Labour Party members.

Labour group leader Cllr Bob Littlewood said: “I’m not sure they [the Liberal Democrats] do have distinctive policies apart from backing the Conservatives on the cuts.”

He added: “We know the Liberal Democrats have many good ward councillors. We know what they think about their local neighbourhood.

“And quite often over the years we’ve worked together against the Conservatives on issues like social services.”

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