New Norfolk County Council leader shakes up cabinet

The new leader of Norfolk County Council has been officially appointed - and has shaken up the cabinet at County Hall.

Derrick Murphy was picked to lead the Conservative group on Friday and his nomination as leader of the council was agreed at a meeting this morning,

Mr Murphy, 59, who represents Freebridge and was formerly deputy leader succeeds Daniel Cox, who has stepped down to do voluntary work in India with his wife Katie.

He said: ''I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to take on this role as leader of the county council, which is of crucial importance to the people of Norfolk, and which comes at what is a very difficult time for public services in our county. I am looking forward to meeting the challenges that the coming months will undoubtedly bring.

'Nobody can be in any doubt that these are extremely tough times for public services in Norfolk, but people who know me will tell you I relish a challenge, and I will be working extremely hard to protect frontline services as far as possible.'

Mr Murphy revealed a few changes to his cabinet, including a new deputy leader and the departure of a familiar name.

Ian Mackie, who was cabinet member for finance and performance is the new deputy leader, while James Carswell, who represents Wroxham, takes on the portfolio for culture, communications and customer focus which was previously held by Mr Murphy.

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Graham Plant, who represents Breydon, takes on travel and transport from long-serving councillor Adrian Gunson.

Mr Gunson, who has served on the county council for 40 years, was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours last June for his services to local government.

Mr Murphy said: 'Everyone on the council wishes Adrian well. He was quite rightly awarded an MBE for his long and distinguished service to the people of Loddon and Norfolk and I am sure he will continue to serve the residents he represents very well for some time to come.'

The other cabinet members remain unchanged: Bill Borrett (efficiency), David Harwood (adult social services), Alison Thomas (children's services), Ann Steward (sustainable development) and Harry Humphrey (fire and rescue).

The meeting also saw a standing ovation from the full council for departing leader Mr Cox, who said it had been the honour of his life to lead the council and that he had given the role his all.

County Council chairman Tony Tomkinson said: 'Under his leadership, this authority has taken a fresh approach and become more businesslike, customer focused, efficient and outward facing.

'The council is known nationally for its use of resources and has more than surpassed efficiency saving targets. It has adopted its core strategic ambitions and Daniel has campaigned vigorously on issues such as the A11 and Post Office closures to speak up for Norfolk people on the issues which matter to them the most.'