Leadership revamp for North Norfolk Labour group

David Russell with copies of condolence messages left after Princess Diana's death. Mr Russell was N

David Russell has become acting chairman of the north Norfolk Labour Party branch. - Credit: Supplied by David Russell

The north Norfolk branch of the Labour party has set its sights on winning its first county council division in more than 15 years following a renewal of its leadership. 

David Russell, 80, was elected acting branch chairman at a meeting late last year, but the appointment is still to be confirmed at an AGM. 

Mr Russell, from Roughton, said they planned to contest all of north Norfolk's 10 county council divisions at the local government elections on May 6, with North Walsham West and Erpingham division - held by Conservative John Timewell - one of their biggest hopes. 

Claudia Owen, who has become the branch's acting vice chairman (campaigns), will contest the division.  

“We will possibly pull a surprise or two elsewhere. We are in good shape," Mr Russell said.

He has taken over as chairman from Ray Mooney, who was suspended from the party last year after allegation of antisemitism, and later resigned.

The last Labour councillor for north Norfolk on the county council was Sheila Cullingham, who held North Smallburgh division from 1989 to 2005, and Labour has not had any councillors on North Norfolk District Council since 2003.

But Mr Russell said the branch, which marked its 100th anniversary last year, had a long tradition, and members were hoping for a return to form. 

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He said: “Only Labour has been able to mount a serious threat to cuts, austerity and indifference at County Hall. We look forward to presenting a powerful case for enhanced representation locally."

Mr Russell is a Cromer town councillor and former district councillor, and was the main author of a book about the Labour party in north Norfolk called The Banner Bright. 

Others appointed to top roles in the branch include Phil Harris as acting vice chairman (membership), Martyn Sloman as secretary, Graham Jones as acting treasurer and Jane Davis as acting policy officer. 

The county council election will take place concurrently with the election a new police and crime commissioner for Norfolk as the current commissioner, Lorne Green, is standing down

There will also be a by-election for one of two positions for Holt ward on the district council, because Duncan Baker - also North Norfolk's MP - has resigned from that role.