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‘Grow up and get on with it’ - new leader’s message as he takes over council reins

PUBLISHED: 19:56 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 10:57 23 February 2018

Councillor John Lee. Picture: North Norfolk District Council

Councillor John Lee. Picture: North Norfolk District Council

Archant

The new leader of North Norfolk District Council called on his fellow councillors to “grow up and get on with it” in his acceptance speech.

Former North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick. Picture: North Norfolk District Council Former North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick. Picture: North Norfolk District Council

John Lee, councillor for Suffield Park ward, took over the authority’s top job from fellow Conservative Tom FitzPatrick at a full council meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Lee was voted into the role by 26 votes to 18, with one abstention.

He said: “I would like to thank all those who have been able to support me here tonight. To those who have not been able to do that I hope I will prove them wrong.”

Mr Lee thanked Mr FitzPatrick, saying: “This council and thereby North Norfolk is in a much stronger position than when he took over five years ago and I believe history will judge him well.”

Mr Lee said North Norfolk had one of the best district councils in the country.

He said: “We are blessed with fantastic staff. What those staff do not need is a bunch of squabbling councillors who attract headlines with everything that they do.

“So now, for the good of North Norfolk, can we just grow up and get on with it?”

Mr FitzPatrick’s final year as leader was marked by a string of resignations from the council’s Tory group, which saw it lose its majority.

He said: “I would like to thank the staff and the officers for the excellent support they have given me in my time as leader.”

Also at the meeting, councillors voted to approve the authority’s 2018/19 budget, which will see residents’ council tax bill go up by £4.95 for a Band D property.

The budget will leave the council with a surplus of £843,441, which will go into an ‘Invest to Save’ reserve.

In the budget, £400,000 has been allocated to environmental improvements and regeneration initiatives in the market towns of Fakenham, Holt, North Walsham and Stalham.

Sarah Butikofer, Liberal Democrats group leader, praised the scheme, saying: “These towns act as essential hubs for our communities. It’s essential that they remain vibrant, thriving focal points.”

Mr Lee said of the budget: “It is a continuation of the excellent financial management that this council has shown for the past seven years. I’m delighted that we have reached a budget that everybody can support.”

Councillor Nick Coppack, leader of the council’s Independent group, said: “As we bid farewell to Councillor FitzPatrick in his role as leader of NNDC, we acknowledge the contribution he has made to the council.

“Speaking on behalf of my colleagues in the Independents group I can congratulate Councillor John Leee on attaining the role of leader of NNDC. I have already had the pleasure of working with Councillor Lee, since he took up the role of leader of the Conservative group in January and I am aware that we share many of the hopes and ambitions for progressing the work of the council in the forthcoming year.

“I am confident that, as members we can all work together in a transparent and inclusive way to the ultimate benefit of all the communities that make up the wonderful and diverse area that is North Norfolk.”

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