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Collaboration issue ‘top of agenda’ for new Lib Dem leader in Broadland

PUBLISHED: 08:30 29 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:06 29 July 2020

Dan Roper, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Broadland. Photo: Archant

Dan Roper, leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Broadland. Photo: Archant

Archant

A new group leader at a Norfolk council has said the issue of working in collaboration with a neighbouring authority is at the “top of the agenda.”

Broadland District Council leader Shaun Vincent and South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller. Picture: Broadland District CouncilBroadland District Council leader Shaun Vincent and South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller. Picture: Broadland District Council

Dan Roper has been elected leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Broadland District Council.

Mr Roper, who is district councillor for Spixworth with St Faiths, is taking over as leader of the council’s main opposition group from Steve Riley, who is stepping down as group leader but will continue as chairman of the scrutiny committee.

And Mr Roper, who previously led the Lib Dem group at county hall, has said his priority will be monitoring the issue of how Broadland Council continues its collaboration with South Norfolk District Council - agreed by both councils individually.

READ MORE: Councils slammed as ‘appalling’ for barring public from secret meetings

Dan Roper, new leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Broadland. Photo: ArchantDan Roper, new leader of the Liberal Democrat group in Broadland. Photo: Archant

Since 2018, the two councils have worked together to form a combined leadership team and offer some services jointly.

But the scheme has not been without controversy, with plans to hold joint meetings behind closed doors blasted as “appalling”.

The councils also discussed plans to merge their legal teams at a meeting the public were barred from earlier this year.

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And at a full council meeting held on June 30, Mr Roper asked the council to rule out any move towards a merger with South Norfolk due to increased financial pressures from the pandemic.

He said that South Norfolk Council had stated “further savings could be obtained by progressing with full merger” and added: “It’s rather disturbing.”

But Trudy Mancini-Boyle, member for finance, confirmed: “That will not be done any faster or harder than previously said.

“It is not in our papers.”

READ MORE: New legal services contract agreed at council meeting held behind closed doors

While Mr Roper, who was unanimously elected as the new group leader, said: “After a superb election result last year the Lib Dems are a strong constructive opposition on Broadland District Council and I am delighted to lead the group. I am particularly pleased Steve Riley will continue his excellent work with scrutiny.

“There are big challenges and decisions ahead for this council and the Lib Dems will always work to get the best results possible for Broadland residents.”

The council is made up of 12 Lib Dem, two Labour and 33 Conservative seats.

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