Liberal Democrats in Redcar & Cleveland yesterday elected unanimously Councillor Glyn Nightingale as their new leader. He replaces Councillor Chris Abbott who has decided to stand down after 12 years. Following the recent elections the Lib Dem group is the biggest it has ever been, with 16 members, and is the official opposition to the ruling Labour group. Glyn, who represents Ormesby and Nunthorpe, is a retired college manager and has been a councillor since 1987. Speaking after his election, Cllr Nightingale said: “I’m extremely proud that the Lib Dem Group has put its trust in me. We will continue to be a constructive opposition. We will not hold back from criticising the Labour administration. The Council needs to overcome the years of waste, neglect and failure. It’s time for Redcar & Cleveland to move in a new direction. For a start it needs to get the basics right – making our area a better place to live and work. We’ll be keeping a close check on Labour to see that this happens. Our first task will be to try to put a stop to the unpopular vertical pier project.” Glyn went on to praise his predecessor, Cllr Chris Abbott, saying: “Chris has done an excellent job over the past 12 years, both as Cabinet member and as opposition leader. He has always been on the ball in holding the Labour administration to account and has always strived to get the best deal for local people.” Cllr Mary Ovens (West Dyke ward) remains group Deputy Leader.
I am proud to lead the new, stronger Lib Dem team on the Council.
Redcar & Cleveland Liberal Democrats have every right to celebrate their successes in the local elections. The results locally were the Lib Dems’ best in the country following the best General Election result last year. Few can doubt that the Lib Dems are the only, real alternative to Labour here. This is spectacularly shown in Ian Swales’ Redcar constituency. We have 16 Councillors, Labour have 21 and there is just one other Conservative. It could have been even better. We missed out by just three votes in St Germain’s and 21 in Longbeck. Overall, we have three more Councillors than in 2007 and several more Parish Councillors. I am proud to lead the new, stronger Lib Dem team on the Council. The victory for Ron Harrison and Jim Rogers, the retiring Headteacher of Eston Park School, give us extra expertise in business development and education. Victoria Reyer, a specialist cardiology nurse, topping the poll in Longbeck shows that we are attracting younger and professional members to stand for the Council. In Redcar itself, we have 11 Councillors compared with Labour’s three. It is clear local people not only believe the Liberal Democrats offer the best chance of change and more sensible policies, but that they do not want the “vertical pier”. Our first job as the Offi cial Opposition is to present a motion to the Council to halt the scheme. The Council has far more urgent priorities to sort out. Our Manifesto offered a real change in direction. It is not difficult to list the waste, neglect and failures of the past four years of Labour rule. Losing the 4-Star rating was a crippling blow. This illustrates the impact of Labour’s limited vision and preference for eye-catching schemes rather than getting the basic services right. Local people have been let down by Labour for too long. The Liberal Democrats now have a stronger team as an independent force for change on the Council. We will judge Labour’s administration on their ability to bring sensible change, be more efficient and effective with the public’s money as well as responding to the needs of local residents for social justice and fairness. Public services are provided for the benefit of the people who use them – not for those who work in them. Quite simply, the area deserves better than Labour offered since 2007. Redcar & Cleveland needs change and the Liberal Democrats are the best ones to bring change. Now we will be looking to the Council to a change and to get the basics right. It must change its “can’t do” attitude into a “can do” approach. The Council can get the area to look better, cleaner and greener. It can get more jobs here, if it can gets the basics right – better roads, better housing, better social services and better schooling. That’s what can attract inward investment and generate a greater willingness of existing businesses to invest in our area.