Norfolk County Council deadlock latest: Liberal Democrats rule out deal with Conservatives

Bill Borrett said he had talked to all the political parties.

Bill Borrett said he had talked to all the political parties. - Credit: Submitted

The Liberal Democrats have today ruled out forming a coalition with the Conservatives to govern at County Hall.

Dr Marie Strong, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council.

Dr Marie Strong, the leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

As revealed in today's Eastern Daily Press, the Liberal Democrats, who won ten county council seats at the elections on May 2, were demanding six council posts from the Conservatives to form a ruling alliance.

It is understood that the Conservatives met five of the Liberal Democrats seven demands to form a coalition which included the Liberal Democrats taking the post of vice-chairman, two cabinet posts and two committee chair positions.

But they refused to guarantee the coalition for four years and to hand the Liberal Democrats, who are the fourth biggest party at County Hall, the post of deputy leader of the council.

The Conservatives lost control of the council on May 2 and were seeking a coalition after their leader Bill Borrett was rejected as council leader by a majority of Ukip, Green, Liberal Democrat, Labour and independent councillors on Monday.

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Liberal Democrat leader Dr Marie Strong said: 'We have come to the informed conclusion that in order to serve Norfolk people in the best possible way and to undo what we regard as the democratic deficit of recent years, all parties need to have the chance for their voices to be heard at Norfolk County Council.

'This will not we believe be served by a coalition.'

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She added: 'The Liberal Democrat group realised early on the importance of these deliberations and has taken what we regard as the correct amount of time to reach this decision.

'Much work remains to be done to ensure Norfolk County Council operates effectively into the future and we intend to continue talking to all parties and all members to find the right way forward.

'We have taken time to look at the widest range of options available and will continue to do so.'

The two parties also failed to agree on major policies including the incinerator at King's Lynn with the Conservatives largely in favour and the Liberal Democrats against it.

With Mr Borrett's leadership rejected by a majority of councillors he will now have to try and form an alliance with another group or step aside and allow another Conservative to take up the helm.

The Conservatives have talked to all the political parties following the elections in which they lost 20 seats compared to 2009's elections.

But it is understood that the Liberal Democrats were the only group to put forward a deal and negotiations are yet to get off the ground with other parties.

The council will meet again on May 24.

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