North Norfolk District Council ‘no longer has confidence in Leader’

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick.

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick. - Credit: Archant

Liberal Democrat leader launches bid to oust Conservative councillor Tom FitzPatrick.

Tom FitzPatrick (left) leader of North Norfolk District Council and Graham Plant (right) leader of G

Tom FitzPatrick (left) leader of North Norfolk District Council and Graham Plant (right) leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council with chief executive Sheila Oxtoby (centre). Pictured when the shared service arrangement was first launched. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

North Norfolk District Council 'no longer has confidence in its leader', according to the leader of the opposition.

It follows the shock resignation of a Cabinet member and the loss of three senior staff to a neighbouring authority.

Liberal Democrat councillor Sarah Butikofer, who represents the Runtons Ward, has mooted a motion to oust Conservative councillor Tom FitzPatrick, who represents the Walsingham Ward, amid concerns over his leadership.

Her proposal is set to be discussed by councillors at the next meeting of the full council at local authority headquarters in Cromer on Wednesday (November 16) at 6pm.

Councillor John Rest has resigned from the Cabinet.

Councillor John Rest has resigned from the Cabinet.

The motion to be discussed states: 'This council no longer has confidence in the Leader of North Norfolk District Council.'

The council, made up of 32 Conservatives and 16 Liberal Democrats, is currently without a chief executive after Sheila Oxtoby and two senior colleagues - head of finance Karen Sly and head of human resources Julie Cooke - joined Great Yarmouth Borough Council when an interim shared management arrangement broke down.

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And, earlier this month, Conservative councillor John Rest, who represents the Lancaster South Ward, resigned from the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have won the last two council by-elections - taking the Astley Ward from the Conservatives in July and retaining the Glaven Valley Ward in October.

Councillor Sarah Butikofer has proposed a motion of no confidence in the local authority leader.

Councillor Sarah Butikofer has proposed a motion of no confidence in the local authority leader.

Councillor Butikofer, who was only recently appointed leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council following the resignation of party colleague Andrew Wells, said: 'My group has always shown a willingness to work with the Conservative group; we're not stupid, we realise we're in the minority, we want to work with them to get the best results for the people of north Norfolk - but we're not getting that.

'I thought it was because we were members of the opposition but then I discovered there are other councillors who feel the council is not being democratically run; there are local parish councils very upset with the way the council is being run; there is a town council which is not happy; I've got community groups and members of the public who are not happy with the way things are going, and these are the people we have been elected to represent.

'We've just had two by-elections in the Astley and Glaven Valley wards and in both of those the (parish) council felt they hadn't been treated well by the leadership of the (district) council, they felt let down by the leadership of the council at a time when we need to be working with our communities.

'When they have a problem in the community people need to feel they can come to us and we will work with them to get that problem resolved.'

Councillor Butikofer revealed she had hoped for support from dissident Conservative councillors but admitted she was unlikely to win the vote next week.

However, she insisted the council has to change to improve.

When asked what she would like to see happen, Councillor Butikofer said: 'I'd either like to see a complete change in the attitude of the management - a more open and co-operative, more inclusive council, or a change in the leadership.

'I do believe there are other people in that (Conservative) group more than capable of running the council in a very good way.'

She added: 'I doubt I will win the vote next week but I cannot just stand by, we need to draw a line in the sand and get the council working better for everybody.'

Councillor FitzPatrick and Councillor Rest were both unavailable for comment.

The Conservative Party's deputy leader on North Norfolk District Council, Councillor Judy Oliver, asked us to call back but is no longer answering her phone.

Under the constitution of the council, any member can put in a motion at least seven clear working days before the date of the meeting to which it is addressed.

A notice of motion must be in writing and signed by the proposer or proposers. It must relate to a matter which affects the council or the district. Motions of no confidence in any office holder have to secure a a majority of the whole council - 25 members - in order to be approved.

A council spokesman said: 'The full council meeting has received a notice of motion and this will be dealt with in accordance to the Council's constitution.'

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