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Babergh to choose new leader at special council meeting in early January

PUBLISHED: 16:33 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:33 20 December 2017

Babergh councillors met at Endeavour House in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Babergh councillors met at Endeavour House in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER


An extraordinary meeting of Babergh Council has been called for January 4 in a bid to end the deadlock that has thrown the district’s leadership into chaos.

The Conservative leader of the council Jennie Jenkins resigned on Tuesday evening before the start of a council motion that had been called to try to remove her from the position.

In the end the motion – which also called on the council to halt moves towards a merger with Mid Suffolk Council unless there was a guarantee that there would be a public referendum – was passed with dissident Conservatives voting with the opposition to defeat their leaders.

Deputy leader Jan Osborne has stood in as acting leader until January 4 – but then the council will have to select someone else to take them forward.

That could be problematic. The Conservatives are the largest group on the authority with 27 of the 43 seats on the authority – but the group is split between those loyal to the leadership and the idea of consulting over merger and those who are opposed to this proposal.

The “merger loyalists” are in the majority on the Conservative group – but if one of their number became group leader, it is likely that enough of the other Tories would vote with the opposition to deny him or her the council leadership.

Many councillors are expected to spend the Christmas break trying to find a compromise – but the row and the bid to unseat Mrs Jenkins has prompted a great deal of bitterness and ill-feeling, particularly with the Conservative group.

It is due to meet as a group in private the day before the meeting but members are concerned that it might be difficult for them to find a candidate for leader around whom they can re-unite.

Meanwhile the consultation on the merger that was approved by the cabinet earlier in December appears to be dead in the water so far as Babergh is concerned, at least until a new cabinet is formed.

And councillors in Mid Suffolk are watching the situation in their partner authority with growing concern – the two councils share a single administration.

Councillors in Mid Suffolk are growing increasingly concerned that the stalemate at Babergh could prevent any merger – and are starting to consider other options if there is no breakthrough in the New Year.

People living in Suffolk and north Essex witnessed an unexpected display from the Red Arrows this evening.

A motorist caught speeding on the A140 in Suffolk was arrested on suspicion of drug driving, police have said.

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Holiday makers keen to get the most out of the remaining days of the summer break could be disheartened by the weather this week, which is forecast to be overcast and damp.

Yet another violent criminal was on the run last night after absconding from a Suffolk prison.

Police are appealing for information after two incidents of violence in Colchester which they believe are linked.

The A12 has been named the most dangerous A-road in our region, according to data obtained on the number of crashes and casualties on our busiest roads.

Detectives investigating an assault in Bury St Edmunds – in which two men suffered serious injuries – believe it was a targeted attack.

An Ipswich special school which was handed an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in May for a series of safety and standards concerns is set to become an academy.

There are two planned roadworks set for the coming week with one major operation currently active and due to expand and continue until Wednesday, August 22.

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