Conservative leader of North Norfolk council to step down

Tom FitzPatrick. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Tom FitzPatrick. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

The leader of the North Norfolk Council has confirmed that he will be stepping down from his role in February.

Councillor John Lee will take over as leader of the NNDC Conservative group. Picture: North Norfolk

Councillor John Lee will take over as leader of the NNDC Conservative group. Picture: North Norfolk District Council - Credit: Archant

North Norfolk District Councillor, Tom FitzPatrick, said that he has stepped down from his leadership role in the Conservative group effective immediately and will stand down as council leader in February.

He is set to be replaced by Councillor John Lee, who is taking on the leadership role after a unanimous vote.

The Conservatives have been in turmoil after a string of resignations caused them to no longer hold a party majority.

In December they also lost control of every committee on the council after all of the Conservative councillors holding a seat as either Chairman or Vice Chair were voted out and replaced by Independent or Liberal Democrat counterparts.

Despite the problems, Mr FitzPatrick said he is 'proud' of his record as leader.

'I think this is the right time to step down,' he said. 'I became leader unexpectedly five years ago and now my main priority will be to be a good councillor for the Walsingham Ward.

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'We had a well run council and there are always political differences between people but I do not engage in personal criticism of anyone. I think that is the last thing that the people of North Norfolk expect or deserve.

'What people want to see are councillors that they elected working together, they are not interested in squabbles and I don't want to fuel them.'

Mr FitzPatrick added that believes his successor will be an 'excellent leader'.

Mr Lee, who is the ward member for Suffield Park, said: 'It was a unanimous decision and I greatly appreciate such strong support from everybody in the group. I'm excited to get started and also a little bit nervous to be honest but I am looking forward to it.'

'Obviously it is well documented that we have had some difficulties over the last three months but the way I wish to approach it is to work with everybody, I am not here for the good of myself but I am here for the people Suffield Park who have voted for me and for the good of Norfolk.

'We need to ensure that we continue the good work that we've done since taking over the administration and keep serving our residents.'