Norfolk County Council set for new leader

Norfolk County Council's Conservative group have plumped for continuity after picking the authority's current deputy leader to take the helm at County Hall.

Deputy council leader Derrick Murphy comfortably saw off competition to win the votes he needed to become the new leader of the Conservative group - and on Monday he will become the latest leader of Norfolk County Council.

The leadership battle was sparked just over a week ago when Daniel Cox announced he was quitting to take up a voluntary placement in India.

There were two challengers for the Conservative leadership but it is understood Mr Murphy was the comfortable winner of the three horse race.

His challengers were William Nunn, leader of Breckland Council and county councillor for the Guiltcross division, along with John Dobson, county councillor for the Dersingham division and a member of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

Mr Murphy said: 'I feel honoured and humbled. I am really pleased the group have put their faith in me and people have been very warm and pleasant about that within the group. 'It is really nice to succeed Daniel, who was my leader when I was deputy, and I look forward to working with the cabinet.'

Mr Murphy had spoken in the run-up to the vote, of the need to maintain 'continuity' at a time of huge challenges for the county council, with the need to bridge a massive �155m funding gap as the government tightens its belt on public spending.

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He said: 'The challenges we're facing are fairly self evident and are considerable. We are looking to protect front-line services but reduce costs through efficiency savings and innovative ways of delivering local government services.

'We are in the middle of the budgetary process and we are legislating for a 25pc reduction in revenues, so we are looking at every department in great detail. That is work which is well underway and we will continue with.'

Mr Murphy joined the county council in June 2009. He represents the division of Freebridge and is a member of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk.

He currently holds the post of the council's deputy leader and cabinet member for cultural services, customer service and communications.

He was educated at the University of East Anglia and University of London. He spent much of his career in education in both the independent and state sectors, finishing as a senior administrator in a Sixth Form College.

Mr Murphy has also managed senior rugby union teams at Waterloo FC and Sale and is an author and editor of more than 70 history books.

He is married to Janet Murphy, county councillor for Gayton and Nar Valley.

He is a school governor, chairman of the Norfolk Records Committee and is a member of the Forum Trust and the Theatre Royal Trust.

Members of the county council will confirm the new council leader in post at a meeting on Monday.