Former Ipswich mayor and Danish citizen Inga Lockington has been denied citizenship by the Home Office, despite working as a Liberal Democrat councillor in the town for 19 years.
Mrs Lockington has lived in the UK since her marriage to Dr Tim Lockington in 1979, when she was granted leave to remain in the UK for an indefinite period. After moving to Ipswich with her family in the mid-1990s, she was elected as a Liberal Democrat councillor to Ipswich Borough Council in 1999 and to Suffolk County Council in 2001. She has held these seats ever since. In 2007, she was elected Mayor of Ipswich.
Following the Brexit vote in 2016, Mrs Lockington decided to apply for UK citizenship, spending £1282 to make her application. The Home Office rejected Mrs Lockington’s application, citing lack of evidence that she was permanently resident in the UK, and have refunded her only £80.
Mrs Lockington said:
“I don’t want special treatment but I do think that all applicants, including those from EU citizens, should be treated fairly. Luckily for me, I have not been told to leave yet – but who knows what will happen after Brexit? I just want some security and peace of mind.
Ipswich is my home now. I have set up a life here, raised a family, and worked tirelessly to serve the residents of this town as councillor and Mayor.”
The letter that Mrs Lockington received from the Home Office states: “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.”
Residents and politicians in the town are shocked by the treatment of Mrs Lockington, who has dedicated years of her life to the people of Ipswich and Suffolk. In local elections for Ipswich Borough Council earlier this month, Mrs Lockington received 1493 votes in her St Margaret’s ward – the highest number of votes of any councillor in Ipswich.
Cllr Andrew Stringer, Leader of the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group at Suffolk County Council, commented:
“This is utterly outrageous. How can a public servant, who was elected Mayor of Ipswich and has dedicated 19 years of her life to the people of Ipswich and Suffolk, be denied British citizenship? If Inga can’t satisfy the Home Office that she should qualify for citizenship, then I don’t see how anybody else stands a chance.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of working alongside Inga will know just how dedicated she is. She has contributed so much to Ipswich life. Inga does not deserve to be treated like this by our government.”