Keith Johnson elected as the new leader of North Norfolk District Council after Helen Eales steps down

New leader for North Norfolk District Council

A new leader for North Norfolk District Council has been appointed following the shock resignation of Helen Eales from the post.

The announcement came at a meeting of the full council which heard that Mrs Eales would stand down as leader of the Conservative-led district council due to 'personal reasons' but would remain on the council.

Keith Johnson was elected as her successor and expressed his thanks to Mrs Eales, who was not at the meeting, for her work over the last year.

He added: 'It is my intention to lead the council in a way it would expect.'

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Mrs Eales, who is the member for the Runtons and Aylmerton ward, later said she was stepping down to spend more time with her family.

She became leader when the Conservatives inflicted a shock defeat on the Lib Dems in May last year, taking control of North Norfolk District Council for the first time in the authority's history.

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A statement by the local party said that since then she had overseen some significant changes, including the reduction of the council's management team and 'tackling a �1m deficit left by the Lib Dems in order to be able to freeze council tax this year.'

Mrs Eales said: 'It has been an enormous privilege to lead the council and particularly to be the first ever Conservative to hold the post.

'While I have enjoyed my time in the role it is a demanding one and I feel that it is time to step back and let others take the lead. I am also looking forward to having more time to spend looking after residents of my ward.'

Mr Johnson added, 'I look forward to building on Helen's achievements in the coming months. Helen's shoes will be difficult to fill.'

At the same full council meeting Benjie Cabbell-Manners handed over the chairmanship to John Perry-Warnest, who was in turn replaced as vice-chairman by Peter Moore.

Mr Cabbell-Manners added that serving as chairman for the last year had been 'jolly' but that he was honoured to hand over the position to Mr Perry-Warnes. As chairman he will be supporting The Soldiers' Charity over the following year.

Also at the meeting the council deferred its recommendations over investment into North Lodge Park but to delegate officers to start negotiations for a community trust to be set up with involvement from groups in the town, including Cromer Town Council.

The trust would give local people more say in shaping the future of the town's park.

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