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Bad blood returns to Norfolk council with one side accusing the other of ‘commandeering’ its ideas

PUBLISHED: 10:17 30 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:17 30 January 2019

With elections coming up at North Norfolk District Council, Conservative group leader John Lee has accused the Lib Dems of stealing an initiative.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

With elections coming up at North Norfolk District Council, Conservative group leader John Lee has accused the Lib Dems of stealing an initiative. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

Friction within members of a Norfolk council shows no sign of abating after one group accused the other of hijacking its ideas.

Holt district councillor Maggie Prior. Picture: Archant LibraryHolt district councillor Maggie Prior. Picture: Archant Library

Bad blood has existed at North Norfolk District Council since Conservative John Lee was replaced by Lib Dem Sarah Butikofer as leader, following a vote of no confidence last year.

And with council elections coming up in May the two sides are at war again.

Mr Lee has accused Mrs Butikofer of commandeering a Conservative initiative, the Music Centre of Excellence.

This is despite Conservative Hilary Cox, NNDC portfolio holder for leisure, culture and licensing, leading the project.

Sarah Butikofer, the leader of NNDC, has accused the Conservatives of playing silly political games. Pictures: David BaleSarah Butikofer, the leader of NNDC, has accused the Conservatives of playing silly political games. Pictures: David Bale

The scheme was instigated by Maggie Prior, the Conservative district councillor for Holt, but she will not now be involved.

Mr Lee said: “Only the new leader and her portfolio holder are going to be involved in the Conservative initiative of the Music Centre of Excellence, based along the lines of our extremely successful Sporting Centre of Excellence.

“This initiative is already well under way and has had an investment of two years’ work, from initial planning to practical underpinning, to reach its introductory May concert.”

Mrs Prior said the decision was politically motivated, and added: “I cannot understand why anyone with any concern for the benefit of the children involved would do something as hugely divisive as this.

“It can only be described as callous and vindictive in its lack of consideration regarding reputational risk.“

However, Mrs Butikofer said: “It is very disappointing to see the Conservatives yet again playing silly political games, rather than working in the best interests of the people of North Norfolk.

“As a council, we are all delighted to support the Music Centre of Excellence initiative and want it to succeed.

“The Music Centre of Excellence is being led by Hilary Cox, who is a Conservative member of the council.”

Last year Mr Lee wrote to Mrs Cox and another senior member of the Conservative group, Nigel Dixon, who had accepted positions in Mrs Butikofer’s new cross-party cabinet, demanding their resignations. However they stood firm over their decision to accept the roles.

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