ANNE Turrell chews her Nicorette gum energetically.

She has used it since 2007, when she gave up smoking after 40 years.

She shouldn’t, strictly speaking, still be using it, but then hers is a stressful life.

Anne has been the leader of Colchester Council for the past six years, since the so-called rainbow coalition, led by the Liberal Democrats, came to power.

She has steered the council through austere times, striving to balance the books as grants diminished before her eyes.

Now she is calling it a day.

On Monday, at the council’s general meeting, she will stand down as leader – although she will continue to be a member of the ruling cabinet.

It is not a decision she has taken lightly, but she said: “I am worn out – I need to get my life back.”

Read the full interview in today's Gazette.