Could ex-council leader Mark Bee return to helm in East Suffolk shake-up?
- Credit: Archant
Local government in the county is facing major changes with the creation of a new East Suffolk Council stretching from Felixstowe to Lowestoft in two years' time.
And now the moves to create that council are set to take a new turn after the leader of Waveney District Council announced he would be standing down – possibly opening the way to former county council leader Mark Bee taking on the top job.
Colin Law has been leader of the Lowestoft-based council since 2011, and is stepping down to allow someone different to take the helm in the run-up to the merger with Suffolk Coastal Council.
He has overseen the completion of a number of projects such as Riverside, the new joint council building with SCC.
Mr Bee, who chairs the Conservative councillor group at Waveney, said Mr Law's greatest legacy would be the creation of East Suffolk Council.
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Mr Bee is expected to put his name forward to lead the Conservatives at Waveney again – he was leader of the district between 2004 and 2011 before taking over as leader of the county council for four years.
If he does become leader of Waveney, he will have a strong claim to be the first leader of the new East Suffolk Council which will be the largest district in England and Wales when it is formed in 2019.
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His experience at the helm of the county council and his close working relationship with chief executive Stephen Baker – who already runs both Suffolk Coastal and Waveney – would put him in pole position for the leadership if the Conservatives win a majority in the first elections for the new district.
Mr Bee said: 'Colin has done fantastic job as Leader of Waveney. He is well respected by officers and members alike.
'He is very much a finisher and key projects have come to fruition under Colin's leadership. He has a high work ethic and will be much missed.'
The next two years will see more work towards the merger and it is likely that a leadership candidate could also emerge from Suffolk Coastal.
At present both authorities are run by Tory administrations. Suffolk Coastal has been run by the Conservatives for all but four years of its 44-year existence and the party has been at the helm in Waveney since 2004.