Liberal Democrats distance themselves from Conservative/UKIP Norfolk County Council deal

Norfolk County Council's County Hall in Martineau Lane, Norwich. Norfolk County Council's County Hall in Martineau Lane, Norwich.

Thursday, May 22, 2014
12:09 PM

The Liberal Democrats have distanced themselves from the discussion between the Conservatives and the UK Independence Party over a deal which would put the Tories back into control of Norfolk County Council.

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UKIP approached the Conservative group last Friday over a “common understanding” which would enable the Tories to take control of County Hall at next week’s annual general meeting.

UKIP currently support the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration, but an email sent by Conservative deputy leader Ian Mackie reveals they could be prepared to switch sides.

In the email, Mr Mackie wrote: “Given where we have been, and where we could end up from now until 2017, this is a considerable turn-around, it will give us 60pc control with 45pc of the council,

“It will also ensure that we would have 63 votes in full council and represent 75pc of the votes cast in Norfolk.

“This once only offer is from May 2014 until 2017.”

The email outlined who would occupy a number of posts if a deal was agreed.

The leader of the council would be a Conservative, while the Tories would also have chairman positions on policy and resources, communities, adult services and the economic development committee. They would hold vice-chairman posts in children’s services and adult services.

The email said UKIP leader Toby Coke would become chairman of the environment, development and transport committee, with Liberal Democrat James Joyce as chairman of children’s services.

Mr Mackie wrote in the email: “This would be a common understanding, not a formal Con/UKIP/Lib coalition.”

However, Liberal Democrat leader Marie Strong today issued a statement distancing her party from the contents of that email.

She said: “The Liberal Democrat group is resolved to continue working with all of the groups described as the rainbow alliance.

“By working together we have achieved many positive outcomes for Norfolk over the last twelve months and we believe the county needed and still needs its councillors to work together and set political differences aside for the good of its residents.

“We will, of course, talk with all members of the council in promoting best practice and many will share our distaste for the sentiments expressed in Mr Mackie’s email.”
And Tom FitzPatrick, leader of the Conservative group, also suggested a deal between the Tories and UKIP was unlikely, after his group met behind closed doors on Tuesday.

He had said: “We will listen to UKIP or anyone else who approaches us with ideas.”

But he added: “Over the past year they have voted with Labour most of the time against us so it’s difficult to see how a deal could be done, but we will listen them for the good of Norfolk.”

Jonathan Dunning, Norfolk branch secretary for Unison, said the current rainbow coalition had brought a “sense of stability” to County Hall and expressed his concern that this “mature approach” to local politics could be put at risk by party pursuit of power.

He also criticised remarks made in Mr Mackie’s email about how much Conservative members stood to receive in special responsibility allowances based on the new set-up.

The Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and UKIP all have further group meetings pencilled in for tomorrow, with the annual meeting taking place next Tuesday.

The Conservatives lost control of Norfolk County Council in elections a year ago. The current political make-up of the authority is 40 Conservative members, 14 Labour, 13 UKIP, 10 Liberal Democrats, 4 Greens 2 Independent and 1 Non-Aligned.

17 comments

  • Marie Strong left it far too late to issue this statement. She should distanced the Lib Dems from all of this the moment that the Mackie e-mail was leaked.

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    Nemesis

    Sunday, May 25, 2014

  • I asked my Conservative County Councillor if there was a pact with ukip and they said NO. It was rejected. So no deal!

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    Matilda

    Saturday, May 24, 2014

  • Well imagine that, Marie Strong putting aside differences to work together and put political differences aside! So far she has actively been out to block anything done by the Conservatives and alienate them. Not really working together is it, although this recent statement could be because she can see everything the Lib Dems have at the moment slipping away. And Unison worried about a “mature” approach. What’s that all about? The Lib Dems have been like an annoying tick in the side of the Conservatives. The Conservatives owe the Lib Dems nothing so the sooner the irritation is removed the better. Personally I think the Conservatives should decline a coalition of any kind. We are now stuck with a LabourLib Dem budget. If the Conservatives take over they will be stuck with administering it. At the next election when we are really on our knees, most people will forget it was Labour’s budget and blame the Conservatives. Labour & Lib Dem made this financial bed. Let them sleep in it.

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    Andy T

    Friday, May 23, 2014

  • What's the point of voting Ukip you get a Tory and they were the people who caused this fiasco in the first place.Voicing frustration is one thing,having any realistic,practical answers,is another

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    Peter Watson

    Friday, May 23, 2014

  • in the mail today it reports a libdem memo has said they expect to lose all their euro seats today

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    milecross

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • just why is there a portrait of cyril smith in the house of commons

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    milecross

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • why worry . Today in the euro elections will see the start of the end for the libdems

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    milecross

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Do you know I wouldn't trust any party at NCC, they all seem to think they are really important. The so called conservatives don't agree with the rest of the party, Labour are a bigger joke that the opposition and UKIP are not sure if they are left, right or centre. I really don't think that any of them should be associated with any political party.

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    Sweet cheeks

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Any Councillor at County or District level who is in it for the money is doing it for the wrong reason.Sharing out of special responsibility allowances is based on who is the flavour of the month with the "LEADER", not necessarily on who is knowledgeable about a policyservice area. If UKIP want experience let them show their merits in the new committee structure and through their ability to debate and listen to the electorate.Getting a whole county perspective does not come overnight. UKIP are still the new kids on the block at County Hall.

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    bedoomed

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Well at least it's now clear - vote Ukip, get Conservative!

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    Norfolk and Good

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • In reality this about sums up all that is wrong with the running of county hall and why the people of Norfolk get such a bad deal every time. As I have always said nothing but a bunch of charlatans.

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    Vic Sponge

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • No one gives two hoots for the LibDims anyway.

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    Del Boy

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Thank you to Marie Strong for putting the record straight. It would seem Mackie has been up to his usual d.irty tric.ks and I'm beginning to think this has been leaked by the Con men to deliberately ta.rnish UKIP’s rep.utation. Every single UKIP member has been instrumental in the last year and both the Conservatives and Labour see them as a major th.reat. I sincerely hope the Rainbow Alliance do the right thing and select Toby Coke as their challenger to the Conservatives it is the only way we will see any real positive change in Norfolk, but of course the fly in the ointment will of course be GNobbs.

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    Honest John

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • How are we ever to believe a word that comes out of any of their mouths? I swear they make it up as they go along. If I'd acted like that in my job, I'd have had the sack long ago. I do however know I did a decent job with pride - something many of NCC members cannot claim. My apologies to those who are decent.

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    disolushund

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • So top man Toby has decided to ask the Tories to become bottom feeder Richard, has he? Does UKIP not realise that their coalition with Tories would only hurt their GE ambitions?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • Tories and Lib Dems are desperate for power. If this is a flavour of 2015 who knows what the coalition will be then!

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

  • After the mess left by the Tories regarding the Incinerator Contract. Are they fit to control the council? I would suggest they are too incompetent to be allowed the privilege of running the County.

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    Norfolkman

    Thursday, May 22, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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