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Corpusty councillor Georgie Perry-Warnes resigns from Conservative group at North Norfolk District Council amid concerns over ‘intimidating behaviour’

PUBLISHED: 08:29 22 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:21 22 June 2017

Councillor Georgie Perry-Warnes. Picture: NNDC

Councillor Georgie Perry-Warnes. Picture: NNDC

A Conservative councillor has resigned from the ruling administration at North Norfolk District Council - citing concerns over her party’s leadership.

The North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) offices in Cromer.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY The North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) offices in Cromer. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Georgie Perry-Warnes, who represents the Corpusty and Saxthorpe ward, claimed local authority leader Tom FitzPatrick had reneged on a promise to stand down from his role following a failed bid to oust him.

She also criticised the council’s cabinet system which she claimed had led to a ‘top down’ management style and claimed there was a tolerance for what she perceived as “intimidating behaviour”.

However, Mr FitzPatrick has rejected her concerns and pointed out he offered his resignation and his party refused.

Ms Perry-Warnes, who revealed she plans to continue as an “independent Conservative member”, said: “I have been disappointed with various aspects of the Conservative Group for a while.

NNDC Leader Tom FitzPatrick. Picture: Norfolk Conservatives. NNDC Leader Tom FitzPatrick. Picture: Norfolk Conservatives.

“In my opinion, local government should not be as heavily associated with national politics as I have found it to be here. We should be more inclusive and collaborative, working together for the best outcome for the people of North Norfolk, listening to each other and treating everyone with respect, even when views differ. There is a significant minority within the Conservative group who share this view and who have tried to change the culture of the group from within.

“Indeed, after the CEO and two others from NNDC’s senior management team resigned in September 2016, there was an attempt to address concerns. When the leader of the Liberal Democrats then proposed a motion of no confidence in Tom FitzPatrick as leader of the council, I was persuaded to support him on the understanding that he would step down at the group’s AGM at the end of the year.

“However, at the AGM in May, Tom stood again in the leadership contest. The principles of democracy dictate that I must accept the majority view and share collective responsibility for the prevailing ethos, or resign. I therefore resign.”

With the Conservatives having 32 out of 48 councillors at NNDC before the announcement, Ms Perry-Warnes’ resignation has no impact on the ruling administration.

She added: “It is with deep regret that I am resigning from the Conservative group at North Norfolk District Council. I will remain as an independent Conservative member for Corpusty and Saxthorpe Ward, and will continue to carry out constituency duties to the best of my ability.”

Mr FitzPatrick admitted he was “surprised” by Ms Perry-Warnes’ resignation. And he questioned her suggestion of “intimidating behaviour”.

Mr FitzPatrick said: “I don’t recognise what she says, it’s two words with no context.”
And he added: “I didn’t make a promise, what I said was I’d be minded to consider standing down in May. I offered my resignation to my group and that was refused and more than half the group asked me to stand again as leader and I was re-elected as leader.

“And if it had gone the other way I would have accepted whoever was leader, that’s happened to me at county, I was leader of the county group and I don’t think anyone can criticise the way I behaved when I lost.”

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