Norfolk County Council leader to be quizzed over ‘vision’ for the authority

County council leader George Nobbs.

County council leader George Nobbs. - Credit: Archant © 2008

Political opponents of the leader of Norfolk County Council are to get the chance to quiz him over his vision for the future of the authority.

Labour's George Nobbs, who became leader of the authority following May's elections, had come under fire from the Conservative opposition for not having a solid plan for the future direction of the council.

Earlier this month, at a meeting of the council's cabinet, Mr Nobbs unveiled the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration's 'strategic vision'.

He said the council had three key priorities – excellence in education, real jobs and good infrastructure, but warned that, with the authority needing to make £182m of savings over the next three years, service cuts are inevitable.

However, Conservative group leader Bill Borrett said at that time that he was unhappy about the way the 'vision' had been revealed.

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He criticised Mr Nobbs for not making him aware of the strategic vision sooner – which he said hampered his ability to ask questions at the cabinet meeting.

And Mr Borrett's fellow Conservatives, Alison Thomas, Shelagh Gurney and Cliff Jordan have now 'called in' the paper, so the cabinet scrutiny committee can run the rule over it and dig deeper into its substance.

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Mr Nobbs will be appearing before the members of the cabinet scrutiny committee and can expect to field tough questions about the future direction of the authority.

The Conservatives are unhappy that the new administration has ditched the Enterprising Norfolk model – and the search for a managing director – which the Tories had seen as a way to generate revenue and protect services by making the council more commercially-minded.

Mr Jordan, former cabinet member for efficiency, said: 'No disrespect to Anne Gibson [the council's acting managing director] but she is no industrial dynamo.

'We wanted to do something like Norwich City have done. They got in David McNally as chief executive and he turned that club around.

'We wanted someone in who would save money and turn the county around.

'George has killed all that off. We've seen them do nothing so far to improve things and then doing some things which are making it worse.'

Mr Nobbs has said the council will continue to drive down costs, look to share services, release land to build homes where possible, invest in the economy, rationalise assets and property and collaborate with others and use new technology to improve services and make savings.

He said an immediate review of senior management structures at the council was under way and chief officers had already drawn up a list of internal savings,

The cabinet scrutiny meeting will take place at County Hall at 10am on Tuesday.

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