Norfolk County Council’s UKIP group picks its leader
15:36 06 May 2013
The new opposition UK Independence Party at Norfolk County Council has picked its new leader - Richard ‘Toby’ Coke.
The 59-year-old, who represents Gayton and Nar Valley, was selected as the 15-strong group’s leader at a meeting today.
Mr Coke, who is also UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for North West Norfolk, has previously said that his main goal as the councillor for Gayton and Nar Valley is to stop the proposed incinerator at Saddlebow.
On his website, in a pre-election appeal to voters, Mr Coke wrote: “UKIP councillors will fight against the Conservative controlled Norfolk County Council decision to build an incinerator.
“It must be emphasised that UKIP’s long standing manifesto policy of binding local referenda would have ensured that this project would never have got onto the drawing board.
“UKIP does support King’s Lynn Borough Council’s plans to build an anaerobic digestion plant that produces an inert building material with no pollution.”
Speaking to the EDP over the weekend, Mr Coke had also said that: “My other priorities are to lower people’s council tax and business rates.
“The critical thing is to maintain frontline services. Anything to do with diversity, for example, I view as unacceptable to spend taxpayers’ money on.”
Mr Coke said he had not become actively involved in politics until 2009, when David Cameron’s refusal to promise a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty spurred him into action.
He said he joined UKIP because the party was committed to withdrawal from the European Union.
His deputy will be Stan Hebborn, 52, who represents Watton. Mr Hebborn spent 14 years in the RAF, 21 years as a policeman and was chairman of the Surrey Police Federation, before he retired to Watton two years ago.
A part-time manager for an international law firm, Mr Hebborn said it was clear from his campaigning that immigration was a key issue.
Bill Borrett emerged on Saturday as the unopposed leader of the Tories – a position he has held since the demise of former leader Derrick Murphy – as a talked-of leadership challenge failed to materialise.
But he will only become leader of the county council if things go his way at the first full council meeting of the new-look authority next Monday. Labour are set to oppose his leadership.
Labour leader George Nobbs, who led a group of just three ahead of the elections and now has 14 including seven from Norwich, was re-elected by his group yesterday warned the Tories it would not be “business as usual” at County Hall.
The Liberal Democrats chose Dr Marie Strong, from Wells, as their leader and James Joyce as her deputy, while Green group leader Richard Bearman continues in that role.
The make-up of Norfolk County Council is now Conservatives (40), UKIP (15), Labour (14), Liberal Democrats (10), Green Party (4) and Indepdents (1).