Devolution, incineration and righting wrongs: The new leader of Norfolk County Council speaks out
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The newly elected leader of Norfolk County Council today said one of his first tasks will be to 'lift the lid' to establish what he claims has 'gone wrong' at County Hall.
The Conservatives took back control of the council after what their leader Cliff Jordan described as a 'three year experiment' of a rainbow alliance running the authority.
At yesterday's annual general meeting at County Hall, Mr Jordan was elected leader after beating Labour's George Nobbs by 41 votes to 37.
Four Greens, who had previously supported the Labour, UKIP, Liberal Democrat alliance, abstained. They said Mr Nobbs's record on devolution and support for the Norwich Northern Distributor Road meant they could not support him for leader.
With the Greens having lost four seats to Labour on Norwich City Council last week, Mr Nobbs branded their decision not to support him as 'petty', The Greens acknowledged handing control to the Tories would be 'held against them by some'.
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Mr Jordan, a former leader of Breckland District Council, said it was time to get the council 'moving forward again', saying the authority had gone backwards for the past three years.
He said: 'They have not dealt with the major issues. Yes, the government has reduced the money, but they keep flip flopping and not dealing with that. Sooner or later, you have got to do it and it's not always going to be happy families.
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'One of the first things I have to do is get to the truth of how things really are. As opposition we have had briefings, but they only tell us what we want to know. I have got to lift the lid on things and turn stones over. Things are not right.'
Mr Jordan said morale among staff at County Hall was low and said he would be speaking to managing director Dr Wendy Thomson about the need for the authority to 'become more commercial'.
Mr Jordan will be thrust into a key role in negotiations over a devolution deal for the region. He said he supports the concept of devolved powers but when asked about an elected mayor, he added: 'I am not comfortable with having Norfolk ruled, for want of a better word, remotely'.
During questions from councillors Mr Jordan said he was in favour of the NDR and joining it to the A47 to the west of Norwich. When asked if he could give a commitment that incineration was off the agenda for Norfolk, said a commitment for the next 12 months was all he could give.
On the withdrawal of Green support, defeated Mr Nobbs said: 'It is difficult to believe it is anything other than a rather petty political decision on their part. This is a setback because of the unprincipled actions of one party who I think will pay a very heavy electoral price for putting the Conservatives back in power.'
Green leader Richard Bearman acknowledged his group's decision would be 'held against them by some'. But he said: 'This is about the leadership of the county council and George Nobbs's showing on devolution, the NDR and pursuing central government cuts.
'And we feel the Conservatives need to stand up and take responsibility for their own government's cuts.'
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