Norfolk Conservative group leader Bill Borrett reveals he offered to stand down

PUBLISHED: 07:32 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 07:32 16 May 2013

Bill Borrett, leader of the Conservative group at Norfolk County Council.

Bill Borrett, leader of the Conservative group at Norfolk County Council.

© Archant Norfolk 2013

The leader of the Conservative group at Norfolk County Council has revealed how he offered to step down from the role after fellow councillors blocked his bid to become council leader.

As a coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to control Norfolk County Council was ruled out, Bill Borrett said he had asked his group if they wanted him to step aside - and was backed to remain as their leader.

The Conservatives, who have 40 councillors at the county council, had hoped to form a coalition with the 10-strong Lib Dem group to break the deadlock at the council.

The Tories lost control of the council after the May 2 elections and, at a council meeting on Monday, members voted against electing Mr Borrett as council leader, heading up a minority Conservative administration.

The Conservatives had already approached the Lib Dems to try to form a coalition, but yesterday those talks collapsed, with the Lib Dems citing irreconcilable policy differences, including over the incinerator.

It is understood the Liberal Democrats had, as part of any deal with the Tories, sought the posts of deputy leader, vice-chairman, two cabinet posts, two committee chair positions and a coalition guaranteed for four years.

Mr Borrett said he had been prepared to agree those terms, but the Lib Dems said they pulled out because of conflicting policy issues.

Liberal Democrat leader Dr Marie Strong said: “We have come to the informed conclusion that in order to serve Norfolk people in the best possible way and to undo what we regard as the democratic deficit of recent years, all parties need to have the chance for their voices to be heard at Norfolk County Council. This will not, we believe, be served by a coalition.”

Mr Borrett said: “I am disappointed because I had agreed to all of their demands, but it is their decision.

“I am interested to know what other parties are going to come up with. They said a minority Conservative administration was unacceptable, but have not put any alternatives to me.

“I hope they come up with something very quickly.”

Mr Borrett revealed that, after his attempt to become council leader was defeated on Monday, he had asked his group if he should continue as Tory leader.

He said: “I have put my leadership at the mercy of the group and the response was that they did wish me to continue.

“We have done everything we can to try to push this forward, so if other parties have an alternative to the Conservatives, let us see it.”

The council will meet again on May 24.

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