New leader for Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council
PUBLISHED: 13:00 20 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:57 20 April 2020
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Politics will be profoundly changed by the coronavirus, according to the new leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council.
Steffan Aquarone has just been elected to lead the County Hall Lib Dem group, after Dr Ed Maxfield announced he was standing down as leader because he would not be seeking re-election as a county councillor in next year’s elections.
Mr Aquarone, 35, who has represented Melton Constable since 2017, was elected without opposition by his group, with Dan Roper - who previously served a spell as group leader - elected as his deputy.
Mr Aquarone said: “Once this is over, there will be no such thing as business as usual. Across Norfolk, tens of thousands of people have carried out millions of acts of kindness in the last few weeks. This says some powerfully positive things about our society.
“Likewise, the difference in tone from political leaders around the world says a lot about how they view people and society.
“If compassion and kindness are the true values of our society, then we need a new kind of politics that can support and encourage them, and a new kind of leadership capable of working with them as its guiding principles.
“I think first of all we need to have local debate more than ever,” he said. “The choices being made by government are very political.
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“This isn’t just about the best use of resources in a crisis. It’s about the views they have towards it - one of the inescapable things is the power of our communities particularly in Norfolk.
“Some of our district councils have done an amazing job by getting out to people but it took them two weeks. Communities were there from day one.
“The heroes of our front-line services set an example for what leadership should look like.”
His deputy Mr Roper, who represents Hevingham and Spixworth, said: “When this is over we will have some serious questions to ask.
“These questions won’t just be about what could have been done better and what the true cost has been – but what do we want from the future of our society given that we’ve just seen so much compassion, authenticity, and respect all around us.
“Until then we will continue to work critically, but constructively, with the Conservatives at County Hall, and all the officers who are working hard to do what they can with what we have here in Norfolk.”
Outgoing group leader Dr Maxfield said: “It’s a huge privilege to represent the people of Mundesley division and I am looking forward to carrying on doing that to the best of my ability in this challenging time.”
The Conservatives control County Hall, with 53 councillors, Labour have 16, the Lib Dems 11 and the Independent group two,
There is one non-aligned independent and a vacancy for Freebridge Lynn division, after Conservative Simon Eyre stepped down last month.
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