New leader chosen for Waveney District Council

The Conservatives have kept control of Waveney District Council after a crunch vote went in their favour last night.

Colin Law assumed the trappings of power at the north Suffolk council after more than a week of political wrangling following an electoral stalemate.

Mr Law, of the Oulton Broad ward, was chosen as replacement to Mark Bee after a tied vote of 24-24 in a packed council chamber.

The Tory leader was handed power by the freshly elected chairman of the council Peter Collecott, who used his casting vote to break the tied vote.

Mr Collecott had previously pledged his support to the Tories following this month's close run elections.

The election results meant both the Conservatives and Labour had 23 seats- resulting in them trying to curry the favour of Mr Collecott, an independent representing Oulton Broad and Green Party member Graham Elliott, of Beccles North ward, to secure a majority.

Because Mr Collecott and Mr Elliott backed the Tories and their rivals respectively, both parties could only secure 24 votes.

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To break the deadlock the former chairman of the council for 2010-11 and ex-Conservative councillor for Worlingham Alan Duce was given role of king maker at last night's meeting.

Mr Duce was made the initial chairman of meeting and given the casting vote for the position of annual chairman.

They were ironic claps as Mr Duce broke the tied vote for chairman by throwing his hat in with the Conservative choice of Mr Collecott instead of Labour's Ian Graham.

And then there were predictable scenes of joy for the Conservatives and disappointment for Labour as Mr Collecot used his pivotal casting vote to choose Mr Law over his Labour leadership rival Julian Swainson.

After being chosen as council leader Mr Law, a former RAF technician, said his party still had a clear mandate from the electorate and he would focus on what was best for the people of Waveney.

He said: 'I will live and breathe the role of full time leader. I am determined to settle for nothing but the best for Waveney.

'I will not hesitate to do what is right.'

Mr Law also said he looked forward to having 'grown up politics' in the council chamber.

His defeated Labour rival, Mr Swainson, of Lowestoft's Harbour ward, said that between his party and Mr Elliott they had 7,000 more votes than the Tories at the election - something the people of Waveney would remember at future meetings.

Describing why he should become leader Mr Swainson told the meeting: 'I think it is the duty for all of us here today to try and reflect the wishes of the electorate as closely as we can.'

Mr Bee, who was leader of Waveney since 2004, is due to become leader of Suffolk County Council today.

He will remain as district councillor for Worlingham.