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Suffolk: D-Day for leadership challenger - can Mark Bee hang on?

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 April 2014

County council leader Mark Bee

County council leader Mark Bee

Archant

The battle for the leadership of Suffolk County Council comes to a head today as the 39 Conservatives on the authority choose who is to lead their group at their annual general meeting.

Mark Bee has led the group – and the council – for the last three years but is facing a challenge from cabinet member for finance Colin Noble, who was beaten in the first ballot of a similar contest in 2011.

It will be a straight fight – whoever gets the majority of the votes in a secret ballot at today’s meeting will be group leader for the next year.

The election will be conducted by experienced Conservative election agent Peter Burgoyne and will take place during the AGM which starts at 10am today.

There will also be a battle for the deputy leadership of the group which will take place after the leadership contest.

Current deputy Lisa Chambers is being challenged by county council chairman and former cabinet member Guy McGregor.

There has been considerable campaigning over the last two-and-a-half weeks since Mr Noble announced his challenge.

Mr Bee has the support of most of his cabinet, the majority of Suffolk’s Tory MPs, and most leaders of Conservative groups on district councils in the county.

However Mr Noble has been bolstered by the support of former deputy council leader Jane Storey and Forest Heath council leader James Waters, who is also a county councillor. Mr Waters, who is seconding Mr Noble’s nomination, has written to fellow county councillors explaining why he feels a change of leadership is needed at the authority.

His intervention came a day after most of the cabinet signed a letter of support for Mr Bee that was sent to all county councillors.

The result should be known by lunchtime today, and will be published on this website as soon as the victor is confirmed.

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