Inga Lockington: 20 Years a Councillor – but Home Office queries residence

    Inga – as Mayor of Ipswich 2007(one of those many years when the Home Office queried her residency)

Longstanding Suffolk LibDem Councillor  Inga Lockington has been denied citizenship by the Home Office, despite working as a Liberal Democrat councillor in Ipswich for 19 years, and as a county councillor for 17.

Danish Inga, lived in the UK since her marriage to Dr Tim Lockington in 1979, when the UK granted her indefinite leave to remain.  She was elected as a Liberal Democrat councillor to Ipswich Borough Council in 1999 and to Suffolk County Council in 2001 and has held these seats ever since (in the Borough elections last month gaining the highest number of votes of any councillor in Ipswich).

In 2007, she was elected Mayor of Ipswich.

Following the Brexit vote in 2016, Inga decided to apply for UK citizenship -spending  the required £1282 on her application. The Home Office rejected it, citing lack of evidence that she was permanently resident in the UK(!), and have refunded her only £80.

Residents and politicians in the town are shocked by the treatment of Inga, who has dedicated years of her life to the people of Ipswich and Suffolk. In local elections for Ipswich Borough Council earlier this month, she received 1493 votes in her St Margaret’s ward – the highest number of votes of any councillor in Ipswich.

Despite this the Home Office wrote to her saying: “As you have not provided a document certifying permanent residence or a permanent residence card issued by the Home Office, we cannot be satisfied that you were permanently resident in the United Kingdom on the date of your application for naturalisation (!!!) and it has been refused.”

According to specialist solicitor and director of PRC Solange Valdez-Symonds this decision doesn’t even conform to Home Office rules.: ” Mrs Lockington is a settled person with indefinite leave to remain granted in 1979 under immigration rules. Nothing to do with EU law (so reg 13(1) BNA Gen Regs 2003 is irrelevant) & wrong to have refused to naturalise her.”

Not only constituents and colleagues, but people across the country have shown themselves appalled and astonished by the treatment of Mrs Lockington, who has dedicated so many years of her life to the people of Ipswich and Suffolk.

As Caroline Page Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party at Suffolk County Council, says:   “This is truly a case of Brexit madness. Inga is well-known for her tireless work on behalf of all those she represents. Yet, as an EU national, she was unable to vote in the EU referendum – and is now told she is not welcome as a citizen in the country she has served so selflessly for so long. What kind of country has Britain become, that it turns its back on twenty years of public service  from a EU national and declares her unfit to be a citizen?

If Inga is ineligible, who on earth stands a chance?

There are many other people in Suffolk in Inga’s situation – and it is an expensive and frightening one to be in. Suffolk  LibDems urge the County Council to provide support through funding the Suffolk Law Centre to support our residents in retaining their Citizens’ Rights ”

New Leader for Suffolk County Lib Dems

New Suffolk County Council  Lib Dem leader and Suffolk County LibDem Green and Independent Group Deputy Leader, Caroline Page, with new Suffolk CC LDGI Leader Andrew Stringer (Green)

After  May’s AGM , Suffolk Lib Dems has a new leader: Cllr Caroline Page. Cllr Page was also also elected  the  Deputy Leader of Suffolk’s Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group. The new Suffolk LDGI Leader is Green councillor, Andrew Stringer.   

Cllr Caroline Page, the county council’s first group spokesperson for Women,  is a passionate campaigner on a diverse range of issues.

She says “David Wood has been a fantastic leader, and I am excited at the prospect of building on the foundation he set out.  I am very grateful for all that he has done for Suffolk LibDems over the past years. I am excited to be taking on this new responsibility for the party, and alongside Andrew Stringer, for the LDGI group. We will continue to hold this administration to account and work for the good of residents across Suffolk As a group we all believe gender balance in politics is important, so it is pleasing to see this better reflected within our own leadership structures.” 

The LDGI Group was formed following the elections in May 2017, bringing together 12 councillors from different political backgrounds. The Group has pledged to work together to hold the Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council to account, whilst still encouraging free thought, debate and voting within the Group. If you would like to find out more about it, click here

Speaking Up for Suffolk’s Women

Caroline Page, LibDem Green and Independent Group Spokesperson for Women

When the Suffolk County Council LibDem Green and Independent Group was formed, Caroline Page was appointed Group Spokesperson for Women.  She says:

“We are the first and only Group in this county to have this role. Interesting, because there IS no Suffolk County Cabinet member for Women for me to shadow.

So why am I spokesperson? Exactly because there is no Suffolk County Cabinet member for Women for me to shadow.  And this has significant consequences for the women and girls of Suffolk.

29% (22) of Suffolk County Councillors are women –  which is below the national average. But even nationally the picture is poor. Latest research shows:

  • Only 33% of local councillors are women 
  • 28% of women councillors say childcare is a barrier, compared with 18% of men.
  • 47% of women (almost double the % of men) experience clashes with other caring duties. Unsurprising, considering half of all women aged 59 are, or have been, unpaid carers. Men don’t achieve such odds till age 75. 
  • 38% of women councillors report sexist comments within their party, and one-third in council chamber
  • 43% of women councillors have faced sexist assumptions about what they could do based on their gender rather than their career, qualifications or capacity.
  • Yet women councillors are just as ambitious as their male counterparts: 45% of women and 47% of men say they want to progress to a more senior role in the council

This  lack of recognition, representation and respect  of women within local authorities, results in lack of local authority recognition and funding for issues that disproportionately affect women – whether it be outcomes for girls, or the plight of family carers or the funding of refuges and safe houses. We see examples of all these in Suffolk.

Seems that Suffolk – nursery of those indomitable seekers after equality, Elizabeth and Millicent Garrett – is in need of a reminder that equality is still a long way off.

We need Spokespeople for Women to ensure that gender equality in Suffolk is a fact rather than a fiction, to make sure that the best person gets the job, that the girls in our schools are wholly supported to have same aspirations and futures as their male peers.

Alongside this we need a clear understanding of the utter necessity for certain woman-specific provision. We can all dream of an equal society, but whilst 1 in 4 women experiences domestic violence, whilst one British woman is killed by a man – generally one she knows – every 2.4 days, women and children desperately need refuges,  support, safe spaces for access, and the funding for all this. And everyone, whatever their gender who believes in equality realise this as truth.

But without a woman to speak up for equality in the Suffolk administration – what happens to it?  It is ‘assumed’ as existing without existing. The funding gets lost because the issue has no direct relevance to those in charge – and the whole county suffers.

Sad but true.

So  I am going to be here to carry on pointing it out, until the Suffolk  administration realises this too.”