Council in limbo as Borrett’s leadership bid blocked by opponents
The new-look Norfolk County Council has been thrown into limbo after failing to elect a leader at its first meeting this morning.
Conservative group leader Bill Borrett, the only nominee, was defeated after failing to win the support of any councillors outside his own party over his stance in support of the King’s Lynn incinerator.
There had been talk over the weekend of the Conservatives, who have 40 of the authority’s 84 seats, reaching a deal with the 10-strong Liberal Democrat group, but they proved unfounded as Mr Borrett’s leadership bid was defeated 43-40.
The decision leaves the council without a leader or cabinet and unable to make any political decisions. Acting chief executive Anne Gibson will lead the council until the parties can reach agreement.
Following the leadership vote, this morning’s full council meeting at County Hall was adjourned except for a motion proposed by Conservative John Dobson to debate the pans for the controversial waste incinerator in West Norfolk. That motion was passed, meaning that the full council will discuss the plans at a meeting within the next five weeks.
Mr Borrett said he had not been surprised not to have secured the leadership and said negotiations would begin with other parties to secure their support.
“With no overall control you expect to have something like that happen. There’s no party that has enough support, as was demonstrated, to have its own way in the council chamber,” he said.
But he denied the council’s lack of leadership had plunged it into crisis. He said: “It’s not ideal. We don’t have members giving direction and focus to the authority. But we do have thousands of very good officers who have their day jobs to get on with. We are not facing a crisis.”