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Labour’s George Nobbs elected Norfolk County Council leader

PUBLISHED: 13:04 27 May 2014 | UPDATED: 15:09 27 May 2014

George Nobbs.

George Nobbs.

Archant

Norfolk County Council will continue to have a Labour leader, after a meeting which will lead to a shake-up how the authority makes decisions.

The new committee system sees the creation of five new committees, which will be constituted on politically proportionate lines.

The council voted, by 43 votes to 40, for these people to chair the committees:

Adult social care – chair Sue Whitaker (Labour); vice chair Elizabeth Morgan (Green)

Children’s services – chair James Joyce (Liberal Democrat); vice chair Richard Bearman (Green)

Communities – chair Paul Smyth (UKIP); vice chair Margaret Wilkinson (Labour)

Environment, development and transport – chair Toby Coke (UKIP); vice chair John Timewell (Liberal Democrat)

Policy and resources - chair George Nobbs (Labour); vice chair David Harrison (Lib Dem)

George Nobbs was elected leader on a day when the council ended its cabinet structure and switched to a committee system.

The Conservatives put forward their leader Tom FitzPatrick as leader.

But Mr Nobbs triumphed by 43 votes to 40.

Mr Nobbs, county councillor for Norwich’s Crome ward, originally became leader after the elections in May last year.

He was elected leader then after Labour, and the Liberal Democrats formed an administration, with support from the UK Independence Party.

UKIP had approached the Conservatives over a possible deal, which would have handed control of the council back to the Tories.

But, on Friday, after a meeting of the Conservative group, Mr FitzPatrick said there would be no alliance with UKIP, and all parties, bar the Tories, backed Mr Nobbs as leader.

Liberal Democrat David Harrison was voted in as depury leader, while the council also picked the chairmen and vice chairmen of a string of new committees.

They have been set up after the council agreed to move away from a cabinet system to committees, which the councillors who wanted the switch saying that will give all councillors more say in decision making.

The new committees include adult social care; children’s services; environment, development and transport; communities and policy and resources. There will also be an economic development sub-committee.

The five committees will have checks and balances in place so that decisions which commit the authority to spending more than £100m will have to be taken by a full meeting of the council.

If the relevant committee or the council leader and the managing director feel the matter is of great significance, the issue will also be brought before a meeting of all councillors.

Under the new system, a leader will be elected each year, rather than every four years.

The meeting also saw Liberal Democrat Brian Hannah unanimously voted in as council chairman, succeeding Conservative Hilary Cox.

UKIP’s Rex Parkinson-Hare was named as Mr Hannah’s deputy, after seeing off the challenge of Alison Thomas by 42 votes to 40, with two abstentions.

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