Independent group at Norfolk County Council breaks up after member joins forces with UKIP

Independent county councillor Richard Bird, who has teamed up with UKIP.

Independent county councillor Richard Bird, who has teamed up with UKIP. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The political balance at Norfolk County Council has shifted, after one of the two-strong independent group announced he was joining up with UKIP.

Richard Bird, who was elected as an independent for the North Coast ward in last year's elections, had been deputy leader of the independent group, with Alexandra Kemp as the leader.

Miss Kemp, who represents Clenchwarton and King's Lynn South, quit Labour in February and formed a group with Mr Bird.

But Mr Bird has announced he has departed that group and will now sit as an independent with the UKIP group.

He cited 'incompatibility in operational methods' as the reason for his switch.

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He said UKIP was the best fit for him, although he added: 'I am pro common market, but I don't think I will change their minds on that one.'

Miss Kemp said she would continue to press for a no-incineration policy in Norfolk and for the site at Saddlebow where the incinerator would have been built to be sold to the borough council.

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UKIP leader Toby Coke has notified the council that the UKIP group will now be known as the UKIP and Independent Group for the purposes of committees and political groups regulations.

The change alters the political balance at County Hall and a report will be brought to the council when it meets a week on Monday.

The political make-up of the council now is 40 Conservative, 14 Labour, 14 UKIP and Independent group, 10 Liberal Democrats, four Greens, one independent and one non-aligned member.

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