North Norfolk political turmoil: What you need to know ahead of this evening’s vote of no confidence

John Lee, former leader of North Norfolk District Council. Photo: Denise Bradley

John Lee, former leader of North Norfolk District Council. Photo: Denise Bradley - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The political tide of North Norfolk District Council could change this evening, with a vote of no confidence in its leadership to be held.

With the full council meeting at 6pm, a motion tabled by Liberal Democrat councillor Sarah Butikofer has called for the vote to be held, which could see the end of John Lee's spell as leader.

It comes after Paul Rice, ward councillor for Waterside, became the 11th Conservative councillor in 22 months to quit the party and join the Independent group.

Ahead of the vote this evening, this guide will explain what this could mean for the political climate of the north Norfolk area.

What is a vote of no confidence?

A vote of no confidence is just this - an opportunity for councillors to say they have lost faith in the ability of their leadership to take the council forward.

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Any member can table the motion with a seconder, which will then be voted on by all members of the council.

What would it take for the motion to be passed?

Unlike other motions, the no confidence vote requires a full council majority to be passed.

While other motions simply need more councillors in favour of it than against, not accounting for abstentions - in order for this to be carried 25 members out of 48 need to support it.

Any less than 25 members voting in favour would see the motion fail.

What would happen if it is passed?

If the motion is passed, Mr Lee would cease to be leader of the council, although he would still remain a councillor.

It would then be up to members to elect a new leader, who in turn would name a new cabinet.

However, were members to be unable to elect a new leader, the current deputy - Richard Price - would take over the role.

Does this vote also require a full council majority?

No, once the vote of no confidence has been held, the new leader would just require more votes in favour of them than against to become leader.

What is the current political make-up of North Norfolk District Council?

Currently there are 19 Conservative councillors, 19 Liberal Democrats and nine Independent councillors on North Norfolk District Council. There is one vacant position, following the death of Wyndham Northam.

The council is currently Tory-led, but without a majority.

So could to Liberal Democrats take over the council?

Yes. Following a vote of no confidence, any councillor can be nominated to stand for leader, providing they have a seconder.

Should a Liberal Democrat councillor successfully stand for leader, it would be up to them to appoint a cabinet. This would then make North Norfolk District Council a Lib Dem lead council.

What happens if the motion is not carried?

If the motion is not carried, Mr Lee will continue to serve as leader of the council with his cabinet still in place.

What has brought this on?

The motion has been tabled by Lib Dem councillor Mrs Butikofer, seconded by Eric Seward.

However, the turmoil within the council's Conservative group has been going on for some time.

In the 2015 local elections, 33 councillors were elected as Conservatives. However, the number of councillors has dwindled in recent years, through a series resignations, by-elections and Mr Northam's death.

When will we know the result?

The vote of no confidence will be held during the full council meeting this evening, which begins at 6pm.