REDBRIDGE has its own version of David Cameron and Nick Clegg after a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats was agreed by Redbridge Council.

At a packed meeting in the town hall, Tory Cllr Keith Prince was re-elected as council leader with the support of Lib Dem Cllr Ian Bond as his new deputy.

But they were promised a rough ride by new Labour group leader Bob Littlewood who pointed out that his party received 4,000 more votes than the Conservatives in the local election, but won just 26 seats to the Conservative’s 30.

He said: “It’s questionable whether Keith Prince has the mandate to be leader of the council. Our team is going to work constructively of course but I’m here to warn you that we have an extremely strong and diverse team and we will challenge the council where necessary.”

Cllr Prince said: “I would like to thank Cllr Littlewood for his ringing endorsement. It’s a big job to follow in the footsteps of David Cameron and Nick Clegg but I’m sure we will manage.”

The new council is likely to face pressure to slash spending, and Cllr Prince said that politicians had to share some of the pain as he announced that the number of seats in his cabinet would drop from 10 to nine, with the number of scrutiny committees falling from eight to five.

In accepting his nomination as leader he quoted Churchill’s remark: “A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, but an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”

Cllr Bond, sporting a yellow rose in his lapel, said: “We tried to float the possibility of an all-party administration but it did not command much support.

“Since we know that we are going to have to make savings across a wide range of council services it’s only right that we start by looking at our own committee structure. We are determined to get value for money.

“Being elected to run any public authority is possibly the worse thing that can happen to someone at the current time.”