New deal could end deadlock at Norfolk County Council

An alliance between Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Demcrats has broken the deadlock at Norfolk County Council.

An alliance between Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Demcrats has broken the deadlock at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

The deadlock over who will run Norfolk County Council could be on the brink of being broken - after a rainbow alliance was formed which could see a Labour leader at County Hall.

A deal has been agreed between Labour, UKIP, and the Liberal Democrats which could end the stalemate which has been in place since the county council elections three weeks ago.

An extraordinary meeting of the county council will take place tomorrow to attempt to find a leader, after a previous attempt last week ended in defeat for the Conservatives and their leader Bill Borrett.

And, if the agreement between the parties stacks up, then tomorrow could see them vote for Labour leader George Nobbs to become council leader, who will then pick a cabinet.

But it will be for a year, with a resolution signed by Labour, UKIP and the Lib Dems committed to changing the way the council is run from a cabinet system to a committee system.

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Mr Nobbs said he would relinquish his position at the end of those 12 months.

All the parties involved in the alliance want to see an end to the current cabinet system of government - where a cabinet of porfolio holders is the decision-making body - and to go back to a committee-style of running the authority, which they say would be a more democratic method.

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The Greens were not at today's press conference where the resolution was signed and it is not clear if they will vote for Mr Nobbs tomorrow.

The county council has been stuck in limbo since the results of the May 2 election, when all 84 council divisions were up for election. The Conservatives saw their majority whittled away at the ballot box, with their number reduced from the 60 at the 2009 elections to 40.

UKIP's success was the big surprise, increasing their number of councillors from one to 15. Labour made gains and took 14 divisions, although that was not as many as the party had hoped. The Liberal Democrats have 10 councillors, the Greens four and there is one independent.

On Monday last week, the Conservatives made an attempt to form a minority administration, led by their group leader and former county council leader Bill Borrett. But that bid was defeated, by 43 votes to 40. Talks between the Tories and the Lib Dems about forming a coalition then took place, but collapsed.

With Mr Borrett seemingly running out of options, he had said he expected the Conservatives would end up being the opposition group at County Hall, despite being the biggest party and that could become the case depending on how tomorrow's meeting pans out.

If an administration is formed, then one of the first issues which will be discussed by the new-look council will be to debate wether or not to press ahead with the proposed incinerator at King's Lynn. That debate is earmarked for June 17, following a proposal by Conservative John Dobson to debate the pans for the controversial waste incinerator at Saddlebow.

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