Lib Dem leader at County Hall to stand down

The long-serving leader of the Liberal Democrats at County Hall announced yesterday she was standing down.

The long-serving leader of the Liberal Democrats at County Hall announced yesterday she was standing down.

Barbara Hacker, who has led the group on Norfolk County Council for six years, is to hand the reins over to a

fellow councillor who can

take the party towards the next elections in 2009.

Deputy leader Paul Morse currently stands unopposed to take over as her successor. A decision is expected at the group's annual meeting next week.

Mrs Hacker said: "It has been a great privilege to represent the Lib Dems and to lead the group.

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"We are a mixed bunch but we all share the same philosophy, and it's a philosophy of which I'm very proud.

"However, I'm a firm believer that nobody should be leader for too long.

"Though I am standing down as leader, I will continue to serve as county councillor for Thorpe Hamlet."

Mrs Hacker lives in Eaton Rise, Norwich.

Outside the council, she is involved with the Norfolk local government assembly, the Norwich area museums committee, the City College Norwich board of governors and Norfolk Arts Forum.

"In my time as leader

I have been very proud to witness the success of the arts, libraries and museums services in Norfolk, and especially The Forum, for which I fought hard and long," she said.

"The best bits have always been about getting a good result for local residents, but the greatest disappointment for me is the lack of progress the council seems to have made in improving the educational attainment of our young people during my time as Lib Dem leader.

"At a national level, I have been appalled to see the way that Tony Blair has continued the Conservative trend to take the guts out of local government."

Lib Dem North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: "She is going to be very hard work to follow, but the group has a number of very talented councillors from which to choose its next leader.

"Barbara has laid a very solid foundation for the next leader to build on."

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