Decision day for Norfolk County Council at first post-election meeting
- Credit: Submitted
Group leaders at Norfolk County Council were last night remaining tight-lipped about the future leadership of the authority, ahead of today's first post-election meeting.
Conservative group leader Bill Borrett confirmed only that his members had met over the weekend to discuss their options, which include forming a coalition with other parties or attempting to run the council as a minority administration under Mr Borrett's leadership.
Meanwhile, other group leaders said that voters would have to wait until today's meeting to discover how the council would move forward – and how it could impact plans for the King's Lynn incinerator.
Mr Borrett said his members, who have 40 of the authority's 84 seats, had discussed 'various issues' on Saturday, adding: 'The group had a chance to assess the situation ahead of the meeting, but there is nothing to add prior to that.'
Richard Toby Coke, leader of the UKIP group, the main opposition to the Tories with 15 councillors, said his group would be backing a motion by Conservative John Dobson calling for a debate on the incinerator.
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'We will have to see how it works out [today] but we are totally in favour of councillor Dobson's motion, and we will be backing that to the hilt. I think one will just have to wait and see how it plays out,' he said.
'One thing I can tell you is we are not going into coalition with anyone.'
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Marie Strong, leader of the 10-strong LibDem group, confirmed in a statement that her members had met on Saturday morning 'to discuss preparations' for the full council meeting.
She added: 'The group is fully committed to finding the best possible solution for Norfolk.'
Labour sources said the group – which missed out by a single vote on becoming the largest opposition group – was looking for greater influence in the activities of the council across the board, and wanted to reach an arrangement that allowed all parties their say, reflecting the electorate's decision not to hand one party an overall majority.
The Greens, who have four councillors, have vowed not to back any leader who supports the incinerator and favour an administration under no overall control, headed by a leader who has committed to scrap the controversial project.
Group leader Richard Bearman said: 'The Greens have always been fundamentally opposed to incineration anywhere in Norfolk and we campaigned strongly to prevent the previous Tory-proposed incinerator at Costessey.
'We will not support any council leader being elected whose only plan for Norfolk's waste is incineration.'
Mr Borrett has said previously his party would continue to push for the incinerator to be built at Saddlebow, pointing out the potential bill Norfolk would be forced to pick up if the plans were to be scrapped.