The first meeting of Broadland’s new rainbow coalition got off to a testy start, with the leading groups already butting heads with their Conservative opposition. 

A partnership of Liberal Democrats, Labour and Greens took charge of the council at a late meeting on Thursday. 

The Lib Dems’ Sue Holland was selected to head up the authority, while Natasha Harpley from Labour will be the deputy. 

Eastern Daily Press: Broadland and South Norfolk Council officesBroadland and South Norfolk Council offices (Image: George Thompson, LDR)

But things got off to a tense start with their Tory opponents – which is still the largest individual group on the council - who put forward Fran Whymark to run Broadland.  

The meeting then saw a series of disagreements over who should oversee various council roles. 

READ MORE: Independents in control of West Norfolk Council after election

Particular bitterness surrounded who should be chairman of the scrutiny committee - which monitors council decision-making.  

The scrutiny committee chairman role has been a source of dispute among the Tories and Lib Dems for some time, with the latter being stripped of the role last year. 

Eastern Daily Press: Fran WhymarkFran Whymark (Image: DENISE BRADLEY)

Conservative members pointed out that the Lib Dems had chaired the committee for most of the last 13 years but offered it to the Greens last year, who turned it down. 

Lib Dem Nich Starling was selected. 

Mr Whymark criticised the coalition's decision to exclude them from the post.

He said: “It’s unfortunate, we are supposedly starting off a new era of collaboration.

"It is unfortunate we are where we are and it is unfortunate what happened last year, perhaps. 

“It would be good to start afresh and give the chairmanship to [the Tory pick] – I'm disappointed but not surprised.” 

But Sue Holland defended the move. 

She said: “We have followed last year’s protocol and gone with a member of the Conservative party in vice chair.

"I think that demonstrates that we are attempting to follow the protocol that was set last year. That may change again.” 

Analysis: Stormy start for rainbow coalition 

If the first meeting is anything to go by it is set to be a bumpy couple of years ahead for Broadland District Council.  

The Tories’ significant losses at the recent local elections appear to have caught many people off guard, and tensions were high during the meeting. 

Fractures appeared from the off, with both groups putting forward choices for leader, chair and vice chair of the council, and scrutiny committee chair.  

It also put John Fisher - the former chairman of the council who lost his seat in the elections - in an unusual position, having to chair the first 10 minutes of the meeting to hand over the chains of office, despite no longer being a councillor. 

And old rivalries over who should head up the scrutiny committee were reignited. 

Some may see it as a case of the Conservatives reaping what it sowed by excluding the Lib Dems from the role last year.

But others may criticise the lack of conciliation on the part of the rainbow group, who could have used it as an opportunity to show they could rise above the Conservative's playbook.

Fran Whymark himself - who took over from Shaun Vincent as leader of the Tories after the latter lost his seat in the most recent local elections – suggested that the decision not to offer the Lib Dems the scrutiny chair role last year may have been a poor one. Whether it will be for the rainbow group remains to be seen.

So far there are no signs of fracture in the coalition itself, who voted unanimously throughout the evening.