Battle lines drawn for South Norfolk elections

The opening shots have been fired in the battle for power at South Norfolk Council after the nominations were revealed for the district council elections on May 5.

The Conservative Party ended 12 years of Liberal Democrat rule at the last elections four years ago with a landslide victory.

South Norfolk Tories yesterday said they remained confident of holding on to their overwhelming majority from 2007, which saw the election of 39 Conservatives and 7 Lib Dems.

Both parties will be fielding candidates in all 36 wards when residents go to the polls on May 5 for the local elections and a national referendum on the Alternative Vote and reform of the electoral system.

The South Norfolk Liberal Democrat group attacked the record of the ruling administration and said it was braced to make gains after defeat four years ago.

The full list of candidates for the district council elections also includes 14 Labour, 10 Green, five UKIP and two independents.

Murray Gray, the leader of the South Norfolk Lib Dem group, which has 41 candidates, said national politics and coalition government would not come into play in the local elections.

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'Here we are the only opposition to the Tories and we are determined to challenge their poor record in running the council for the last four years. They have failed to deliver most of their promises and the council has dropped back from the leading position we achieved when we were in control between 1995 and 2007.'

'We are very confident about holding all our existing wards. But we also believe we can gain a number of seats from the Conservatives,' he said.

John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk Council, said the Conservatives had a full slate of 46 candidates, which included experience and four candidates under 20-years-old.

'Conservative-run South Norfolk's Council Tax has been frozen in three out of the last four years, whilst millions of pounds have been saved by slimming-down and running the Council in a more business-like and efficient manner. Running a council is a serious business but we never forget our mission to make South Norfolk one of the best places to live in the country. Conservative councils provide the best quality services at a price residents can afford, whilst making sure that those in need get the support they require promptly and efficiently,' he said.

A number of high profile Conservative councillors, including cabinet member Eloise Ellis, who represents Diss, former chairman of planning Martin Wynne, and Long Stratton councillor Alison Thomas, have not been included in the nominations.

The Conservatives have also selected Barry Duffin for the Forncett ward following the death of Hedley Smith and Wymondham mayor Colin Foulger will stand in the Rustens ward following the resignation of Daniel Cox last year.