Vote of no confidence in leadership at North Norfolk District Council
A vote of no confidence in John Lee's leadership at North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) will be held, following the resignation of yet another councillor from the Conservative group.
Paul Rice, Waterside ward councillor, which includes Catfield, Ludham, Hickling and Potter Heigham parishes, has joined the Independent group on the council.
He is the 11th Conservative councillor to quit the group in about 22 months.
NNDC is now made up of 19 Cons, 19 Lib Dems and nine Independents with one vacant seat, following the death of Conservative councillor Wyndham Northam on October 27.
Mr Lee, council leader, has confirmed that there will be a vote of confidence in his leadership at the full council meeting on Wednesday, November 21.
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Mr Rice said he had resigned following events at the full council meeting at NNDC on Wednesday, September 26, and the emerging toxicity of party politics locally and nationally.
He said: 'I have had to examine my conscience and I now know that I cannot support the current administration.
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'I feel frustrated that some of the basic principles of democracy are not being upheld within local government.'
Mr Rice said his decision was partly down to the council's decision to press ahead with the Egmere Business Park scheme in north Norfolk.
Cabinet members had opted against the recommendation of the council's scrutiny committee to commission an independent viability study into the scheme.
Mr Rice added: 'I believe in due diligence. We need to look at it properly.'
John Rest, Independent group leader at NNDC, said: 'Like all his Independent colleagues, Mr Rice will strive to ensure that in future, the district council is run on more democratic grounds, where every councillors' vote is taken into account when making decisions that will ultimately affect every resident in North Norfolk.'
Mr Lee said he was 'disappointed and annoyed' at Mr Rice's decision.
He said: 'All of these people who have resigned stood as Conservative candidates at the election in May 2015. They have no respect for the people of north Norfolk.'
He said he was also upset at the timing of the resignation, coming after Mr Northam's death.
Sarah Butikofer, Lib Dem leader at NNDC, said: 'Sadly I am not surprised that Mr Rice has taken this decision, like many councillors I believe he found that the decision of Cabinet to go against the democratic will of the council was a step too far. We wish him well with his new group.'