Labour denied top roles at Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Trevor Wainwright, Labour leader at Great Yarmouth Borough Council. Photo: James Bass

Trevor Wainwright, Labour leader at Great Yarmouth Borough Council. Photo: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

A spat has broken out after Labour councillors were denied leadership roles on borough council committees.

Despite a pre-election agreement, Tory and UKIP members of Great Yarmouth Borough Council blocked Labour's bids at a special meeting to elect a council leader and committee chairmen.

Two weeks ago, Labour were pushed into third place on the council for the first time, with 11 seats, after UKIP gained four, at the local elections. The Conservatives have 14 seats, making them the biggest party, and there are two independents.

Labour group leader Trevor Wainwright said: 'Tory and UKIP councillors formed an alliance to deny the Labour group of any chairmen or vice-chairmen on the new committees set up after the council moved from the cabinet system to the committee system, something which the Labour group supported.

'As the council is now finely-balanced, it was agreed the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the committees would be split equitably, but at the last minute an amendment from UKIP, supported by the Tories, saw this agreement in tatters, and the Labour group received nothing.

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'It just goes to show if you vote UKIP you get Tory, and if you vote Tory you get UKIP.'

UKIP leader Kay Grey said: 'At the moment they are the third party. We were the third largest party last year and only had one chairman then. At least the smaller parties like UKIP and Labour have a voice with this system.'

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Newly re-elected leader, Graham Plant, who is also leader of the Conservative group, said: 'There was an agreement before the meeting and it was broken.

'This is the system Labour voted in. They said it would be more democratic, transparent and open. The full council voted on committee chairmen and vice-chairmen, so from that point of view, those that have the most seats get to choose.'

Currently the Conservatives have six committee chairmen, UKIP have four and Labour have one. The Conservatives eight vice-chairmen and UKIP have five. Each committee is made up of five Conservative, four Labour and four UKIP councillors.

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