Deputy leader of Breckland Council loses role after challenge by two Conservative colleagues

The deputy leader of Breckland Council lost his position after two Conservatives challenged him at the Tory council group's annual general meeting today.

Adrian Stasiak had been deputy leader of the Tory group, and the council, since challenging William Smith for the position two years ago.

However, he lost the post to Watton mayor Michael Wassell, who has only been a Breckland councillor for one year, at the meeting held at the council officers in Dereham this morning.

Nar Valley councillor David Williams also stood for the post.

Conservative councillor Trevor Carter tweeted 'Breckland Council meeting - much blood mentioned, but none spilt', but denied there was any tension or ill feeling about the contest.

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Conservative leader William Nunn, who was returned unopposed, said the change did not reveal any tensions within the group, whose 47 members control the council, but could reflect the number of new councillors elected last year.

He said: 'Adrian has done some great work for the council over the years but on this occasion Michael Wassell put his hat in the ring because he felt he had a different skill set to bring at a time of change and gave a great presentation to the group.

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'I think it's the case that last year we had an election and some of those new members wanted to become more involved and lead the council, as Michael has. He has made his case and sold himself to the group.'

Breckland has merged its senior officers with South Holland council in Lincolnshire, and Great Yarmouth is set to join the partnership.

Mr Wassell, who worked in the RAF for 23 years and was vice president of a software company in Colorado, said his experience working remotely with teams on the east and west coasts of America would help with the new council structure.

He said: 'I put myself forward because I thought I had a slightly different skill set to Adrian and could offer some different viable options for the trying times we have ahead.'

He is due to formally take over as deputy leader of the council on Thursday May 24.

Mr Nunn said he would discuss Mr Stasiak's future with him after he had the weekend to reflect on the situation.

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