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Dramatic casting vote decides new leader of Mid Suffolk District Council

PUBLISHED: 20:19 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 20:19 20 May 2019

The make-up of the new Mid Suffolk District Council, which features a 17/17 split on both sides of the chamber. Picture: JASON NOBLE

The make-up of the new Mid Suffolk District Council, which features a 17/17 split on both sides of the chamber. Picture: JASON NOBLE

Jason Noble

A dramatic first meeting of the new-look Mid Suffolk District Council has resulted in a new leader - but went down to the wire with the chairman's casting vote.

Suzie Morley, who has become the new leader at Mid Suffolk District Council. Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL/PAUL NIXONSuzie Morley, who has become the new leader at Mid Suffolk District Council. Picture: MID SUFFOLK DISTRICT COUNCIL/PAUL NIXON

Suzie Morley became Conservative group leader earlier this month after Nick Gowrley failed to get re-elected.

However with 16 Conservatives and one Independent uniting in one group and the 12 Greens and five Liberal Democrats uniting opposite, the council has been left in a deadlock.

Ms Morley and Green group leader Rachel Eburne had both been nominated as leaders of the council during Monday's meeting, but new council chairman Lavinia Hadingham, Conservative, swung the decision in favour of the Tories with a casting vote.

Ms Morley, who had previously served on the cabinet with responsibility for organisational delivery, said: "It's a great and humbling honour to be elected as leader of Mid Suffolk District Council.

Mid Suffolk District Council Green party leader Rachel Eburne said she was disappointed by the result. Picture: GREEN PARTYMid Suffolk District Council Green party leader Rachel Eburne said she was disappointed by the result. Picture: GREEN PARTY

"I'm looking forward to working with all the groups. I want to work with both the Green group and the Liberal Democrats, and I'm sure we will. The will is there."

With the council split, many of the decisions regarding membership of committees went down to chairman's casting votes, which Ms Morley acknowledged could happen regularly. She added: "If we can get discussion and debate going up front in the process then it shouldn't be like this. I don't want it to be like this."

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Talks had been underway with the Green and Lib Dem camps following the election to try and come to an agreement, but the sticking point had been differing views over whether the council's base should remain at Endeavour House in Ipswich, and investment in out of county retail and commercial properties through the CIFCO Capital Investment company.

John Field from the Mid Suffolk Liberal Democrat cohort said decisions could be decided by who turns up going forward. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJohn Field from the Mid Suffolk Liberal Democrat cohort said decisions could be decided by who turns up going forward. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Rachel Eburne said the Green group had requested three positions on the cabinet to reflect the political split, but this was turned down and only non-portfolio cabinet positions - those without formal responsibility - were offered instead.

Ms Morley is set to reveal her cabinet on Tuesday once it has been finalised.

Ms Eburne said: "I think it's really disappointing and it doesn't reflect what the electorate have voted.

"They only got 41% of the vote, they haven't got a majority.

"All the people that came out to vote will be wondering what happened to their vote."

The split in the council effectively means that councillors' attendance will be key, as key votes could be won or lost on either side as a result of who turns up.

John Field, Lib Dem group leader added: "I'm somewhat disappointed that we haven't seen an area of power sharing.

"Every time there is a decision they will have to have everyone here - that's just going to make things exceedingly difficult."

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