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Norfolk County Council leader outlines priorities at head of 'rainbow alliance'

PUBLISHED: 15:23 24 May 2013 | UPDATED: 16:24 24 May 2013

County councillor George Nobbs, concerned about anti social behavious in Norwich's landmark Millennium Library at The Forum; Photo: Bill Smith; Copy: Shaun Lowthorpe; For: EDP; Archant © 2008; 01603 772434

County councillor George Nobbs, concerned about anti social behavious in Norwich's landmark Millennium Library at The Forum; Photo: Bill Smith; Copy: Shaun Lowthorpe; For: EDP; Archant © 2008; 01603 772434

Archant © 2008

The new leader of Norfolk County Council admitted the county is "facing problems" and highlighted his priorities as he looks to unite a 'rainbow alliance' of minority groups.

George Nobbs was elected leader this morning with the support of Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP and Green councillors at an extraordinary meeting at County Hall, where the first steps were taken towards changing the council’s decision-making structure from a cabinet to a committee system next year.

Mr Nobbs immediately made two appointments to his cabinet to oversee the county’s troubled children’s services department, which he has made one of his main concerns, selecting Mick Castle as member for education and Liberal Democrat James Joyce as member for safeguarding.

The remainder of his cabinet is expected to be announced over the weekend, but Mr Nobbs said he would be working closely with the Liberal Democrats in running the authority, which has been in limbo since Bill Borrett’s bid to lead a minority Conservative administration was thwarted last Monday.

But questions have been raised at the parties’ shared aims and the future direction of the council.

Mr Nobbs said: “I hope we can work together. You don’t see much sign of it from one party but I hope the other parties can work together.

“It’s not about the form of governance particularly – we want a more open and democratic council – but there’s a pressing urge over things like schools, education and the budget. I want to get on with that as soon as possible and stop all this wrangling and squabbling from the Conservatives.

“Obviously the state of our schools and children’s services are crucial and we need to sort those out straight away. That’s the most urgent task.”

But Mr Borrett said Norfolk residents should be concerned at the lack of detail on the alliance arrangement.

“I’m glad that we’ve got an administration finally and that we’ve got a leader because that’s important. I’m concerned that we don’t know what they stand for, what their policies are or what they propose to do in the future.

“They’ve had three weeks to think about it so you would have thought that we would have heard by now.

“The Conservatives have an important role to play going forward. We are the official opposition, we are the largest party on the council and we will work in a constructive way to get the best outcomes for the people of Norfolk.”

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