Waveney’s new Tory leader unveiled

The new possible leader for Waveney District Council was unveiled last night as the Conservative group chose a fresh face to lead them during a time of political deadlock.

As Oulton Broad councillor Colin Law replaced Mark Bee as Tory leader he was thrown straight into a crisis sweeping the council.

Following this month's elections Mr Law and his party hold 23 seats – the same as the Labour Party.

In order to break the deadlock both parties have courted the support of independent councillor for Oulton Broad Peter Collecot and Green Party representative for Beccles Graham Elliott.

Mr Collecot has already pledged his support to Mr Law's party while Mr Elliott has said he will vote in favour of Labour leader Julian Swainson.

It means there will be a 24-24 stalemate at next week's crunch vote on who will become leader and annual council chairman.

The deadlock means that whoever is chosen as the initial chairman of Wednesday's meeting will have a massive say in who will run the council for the next four years as they will get a casting vote for the annual chairman in the event of a tie.

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However, because no one party will be able to secure enough votes for the vital job of chairing the meeting, Waveney's monitoring officer has stepped in to solve the crisis.

Arthur Charvonia has issued a formal opinion which says the council chairman for 2010-11 Alan Duce will be made initial chairman.

The decision to give the former Conservative councillor for the Worlingham ward the chance to use his casting vote has been criticised by Mr Elliott.

Mr Elliott, who represents Beccles North, said: 'The decision to bring back Alan Duce to preside over the selection of the new chairman is probably legal but it is certainly unjust and will ensure we have a Tory administration for the next four years.

'Mr Duce will have a casting vote in the selection of the new chairman and this casting vote is likely to be required as the 48 newly elected councillors are likely to be divided 24-24.

'While this is legal it certainly doesn't reflect the will of people.

'The new Conservative administration will have received just 40pc of the votes in the recent election whereas a Green supported Labour administration commanded 49pc of the vote between them.'

Last night's vote ends Mr Bee's seven years as district council leader. Mr Bee, councillor for Worlingham, had to step down as head of Waveney after he was elected leader of the ruling Conservative group at Suffolk County Council.

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