Labour leadership decision means Brenda Arthur is likely to be next Norwich City Council leader

The former chief executive of Age Concern in Norwich looks set to become the next leader of the city council, after she was picked to lead City Hall's Labour group.

Long-serving council leader Steve Morphew stepped down following last week's elections, which sparked a two horse race to succeed him.

It was Brenda Arthur, Mr Morphew's deputy, who got the nod from party colleagues at a meeting held at Norwich City Council this evening (Monday).

She saw off the challenge from Alan Waters, cabinet member for resources, performance and shared services, who will now become the group's deputy leader.

No party has overall control of Norwich City Council, with Labour having 18 seats, the Greens 15, the Liberal Democrats four and the Conservatives two. But for the past five years Labour has run the council as a minority administration and with the Greens showing no appetite for a coalition with the Lib Dems, there are likely to do so again, which will mean Ms Arthur will be the leader of Norwich City Council.

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She said last night: 'I feel very privileged that my colleagues felt they could vote for me as their leader and I am looking forward to it. 'It will be a challenging year with the cuts we have got to make, but we will stick to our principles to keep the city and its citizens prosperous and healthy.'

Ms Arthur, has been a city councillor for University ward since 2008 and, as well as serving as deputy leader she was the cabinet member for housing.

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Before she became a city councillor, she worked for almost 17 years as the chief executive of Age Concern Norwich and is a previous Sheriff of Norwich.

Former teacher Mr Waters, who last week successfully retained Crome ward, has been a city councillor for 22 years and was leader of the council between 1993 and 1998.

Outgoing Labour leader Mr Morphew, who is now president of Norwich Labour Party, said of his successor: 'It's excellent news. Brenda is a very popular figure in the city and will be a formidable leader in difficult times.

'The fact she has Alan as her deputy means we have a brilliant team heading up the Labour group and I am sure the council will adopt them as leader and deputy leader.' A formal decision on who will run the city council and who will be leader will be made at the annual general meeting next Tuesday,

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