Norfolk councillors welcome their latest visitors from Caribbean territory tainted by corruption allegations
A group of civil servants from a Caribbean paradise are visiting Norfolk today and tomorrow just weeks before elections return after a corruption inquiry.
Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) will next month hold its first elections since a 2009 investigation concluded there was a 'high probability of systematic corruption' among former government officials.
The Foreign Office ordered the TCI to undergo reform work before elections returned, with Norfolk County Council picked to mentor political staff in finances, governance and economic development.
Now, a fourth group of TCI representatives visiting County Hall, in Martineau Lane, Norwich, as part of this work.
Derrick Murphy, Norfolk County Council leader, who visited TCI for seven days in May, said: 'We very much hope that this visit will enable us to further develop relationships between the two countries and introduce new ways of working.
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'The exchanges are mutually beneficial as they help to put Norfolk on an international stage and create a greater understanding of what our county has to offer as a place to work, live, and do business. They also have a positive impact on the future politics of the Turks and Caicos Islands.'
Questions have been raised in Norfolk about the suitability of the council for the role.
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Campaigners protesting against plans for an incinerator at King's Lynn have sent letters to TCI's Governor Ric Todd.
One concluded: 'When it comes to transparency, accountability and democracy, Norfolk County Council has a reverse Midas Touch.'
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, in his former role as a Foreign Office minister, has also been involved in working with TCI.
He visited the islands in June to announce new elections will be held on November 9.
Mr Bellingham, in a speech made during his June visit, said: 'I believe that today is a time to look forward, not back. This is a territory about to adopt a new constitution, about to hold an election; a territory that is finding its feet once again.
'Now is the time for the political parties in TCI to prepare for elections properly and thoroughly, and to develop clear and credible manifestos for the electorate.
'What we are all keen to hear from the political parties is a clear vision for the future of the TCI. Now is the time for the media here to subject them to rigorous scrutiny, without fear or favour.
'I trust the people of these islands – like the people of the United Kingdom – will hold their political parties to proper account.'