Norfolk County Council
|Norfolk County Council|
Coat of arms
|Seats||84 councillors |
|East of England Local Government Association|
42 / 84
14 / 84
12 / 84
12 / 84
3 / 84
2 / 84
|First past the post|
|2 May 2013|
Norfolk County Council is the council of Norfolk, England, which is split into seven local government districts. These are Norwich City, Breckland District, Broadland District, Great Yarmouth Borough, North Norfolk District, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough and South Norfolk. Since 2016 the Conservative Party has had control of five districts, while Norwich is governed by a majority Labour Party administration and Great Yarmouth has no overall control. As of 2010, the chief executive of the council was David White. It is a member of the East of England Local Government Association.
The United Kingdom local elections, 2013 saw UKIP become the second largest party in Norfolk County Council and the Labour Party third, toppling the Conservative majority for the first time since 1997. As a result, a UKIP-Labour-Liberal Democrat alliance, with conditional support from the Green Party and an independent, took control of the council. The Conservatives took back control of the council in May 2016 when the four Green councillors abstained in the election for council Leader, resulting in Conservative Cliff Jordan winning by 41 votes to 37.
In 1902, the council consisted solely of landowners. In 1967, Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council purchased the Royal Air Force airfield at Horsham St Faiths.
1979 — 2009
Norfolk has traditionally been known for its Conservative stronghold, as they have won over half of Norfolk's parliamentary constituencies since 1979. The countryside is almost all Conservative territory, with a few areas being strong for the Liberal Democrats. The constituency of North Norfolk is often closely fought between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. The district council of South Norfolk was run by the Liberal Democrats from 1995 to 2007, when the Conservatives gained control there.
The urban areas of Norfolk have always been more mixed in their loyalties, however, and Norwich, Great Yarmouth, and King's Lynn are often held by the Labour Party. However, the dominance of the Labour Party has been stemmed by the Green Party of England and Wales, who are now the official opposition on Norwich City Council, and from 2009 to 2013 the Greens held the greatest number of Norfolk County Council electoral divisions within the city.
In October 2006 the Department for Communities and Local Government published a White Paper on Local Government inviting councils to submit proposals to them for unitary authority reconstruction of councils. In January 2007 Norwich City Council submitted a bid for unitary status, but that was rejected in December 2008 because it did not meet all of the rigorous criteria for acceptance. In February 2008, the Boundary Committee for England was asked to consider other proposals for all or some of Norfolk, stating whether Norwich should become a unitary authority, meaning it would exercise all local government functions for the city and lie outside the administrative area of Norfolk County Council. The committee recommended a single unitary authority covering all of Norfolk, including Norwich.
2010 — present
On 10 February 2010 contrary to the December 2009 recommendation of the Boundary Committee, it was announced that Norwich would have a separate unitary status. The change was strongly resisted first by Norfolk County Council, then by the Conservative opposition in Parliament. To react to that, Norfolk County Council issued a statement about the fact that it would seek leave to challenge the decision in the courts. A private letter was leaked to the local media, stating that the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Communities and the Local Government noted that the decision was unable to meet criteria and there was a risk of it "being successfully challenged in judicial review proceedings is very high". The Shadow Local Government and planning minister, Bob Neill, stated that should the Conservatives win the 2010 general election, they would reverse the decision.
The 2010 general election resulted in a Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government, and on 12 May 2010 Eric Pickles was appointed as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. According to news media reports, Pickles instructed his department to take urgent steps to reverse the decision to create a unitary Norwich, instead maintaining the status quo, in line with the Conservative Party's manifesto.
The unitary plans had been supported by the Norwich city council Liberal Democrat group, and also by Simon Wright, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Norwich South, who intended to lobby the party leadership to allow the changes to go ahead.
However, by the Local Government Act 2010 the decision to establish unitary authorities for Norwich, Exeter, and Suffolk was reversed. The disputed award of unitary status for the three area had been taken to judicial review in the High Court of Justice, and on 21 June 2010 the court ruled it as unlawful and revoked the changes. Norwich therefore failed to attain permanent unitary status, and the previous two-tier arrangement of County and District Councils (with Norwich City Council counted among the latter) remains the status quo.
Following the county elections of May 2013, Norfolk County Council is under no overall control, the Conservatives being the largest party on the Council, with forty Conservative councillors, UKIP having fifteen, Labour fourteen, the Liberal Democrats ten, and the Green Party four, plus one Independent councillor. In a by-election in August 2013, the Labour Party gained one seat from UKIP, thus taking over from UKIP as the second largest political group on the county council. Norfolk County Council is currently made up of an alliance of non-Conservative councillors (15 UKIP, 14 Labour, 10 Liberal Democrat, 4 Green and 1 independent) with a Labour leader.
Since the May 2010 general election, Norfolk was represented in the House of Commons by seven Conservatives and two Liberal Democrats. The Labour Party no longer held the urban constituencies they once held in Norwich and Great Yarmouth, leaving them with no Commons representation in the whole of East Anglia; the former Labour Home Secretary Charles Clarke was a high-level casualty of the 2010 election.
Since the May 2015 general election, Norfolk has been represented by seven Conservatives, one Labour and one Liberal Democrat. The Labour Party gained 2 seats in East Anglia from the Liberal Democrats, in Norwich South and Cambridge. In Norwich South, the Liberal Democrats were beaten into fourth place, approximately 13,000 votes behind Labour.
A controversial project to establish an incinerator at King's Lynn was finally scrapped in April 2014 when County councillors voted by 48 to 30 to end the authority’s contract with the Cory Wheelabrator after a heated debate at County Hall in Norwich on Monday, April 7. That decision was followed by a cabinet meeting, in which members voted unanimously to axe the scheme.
Election results, May 2013
- For the by-election in August 2013, see Norfolk County Council elections
|Norfolk County Council election results 2013|
|Party||Seats||Gains||Losses||Net gain/loss||Seats %||Votes %||Votes||+/−|
|United People's Party||0||0||0||+/-0||0||0.02||50||0.02|
Economy and business
In 2010, Sadiq Khan said "we have agreed to provide significant investment to allow Norfolk County Council to deliver vital improvements which will support jobs, encourage economic growth and attract further investment to the area." A £21 million Community Infrastructure Fund was also proposed. The council spends an average of £56.5 million a month with suppliers.
Education and healthcare
The council is in charge of all state schools throughout Norfolk. There are three nursery schools, 359 primary schools, 35 secondary schools, one all-through school, one free school, one short stay school and 11 special schools. They provide a school finder for parents to find children a school. The primary school curriculum is set by the government, and recorded on Directgov. The secondary (high) school curriculum is set by the government, and recorded on Directgov. There are compulsory subjects which are needed to be followed in Norfolk and England.
Norfolk County Council is also responsible for coordinating and managing the healthcare of some 5.6 million people in Norfolk. The government employs 125,000 people in 41 different organizations.
In February 2013, Ofsted inspectors judged that vulnerable children in the county were at risk. Shortly afterwards, the regulator expressed concern about the County's educational provision. Three years later, in August 2016, Ofsted found that Norfolk County Council had still failed to address the regulator's earlier judgements (in February and August 2013, respectively) that the Council's arrangements for the protection of children and for services for looked after children were 'inadequate'.
Norfolk County Council offered grant aid for landscape conservation, submitted to the Director of Planning and Transportation. Many historic buildings in the county are protected by the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust, established in 1977, which is under the guidance of the county council. Between 1995 and 2000, the Trust played a major role in restoring the Denver Mill site, at a cost of over £1 million.
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- "Childrens Services — Schools". Norfolk County Council. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
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- "The National Curriculum for five to 11 year olds". DirectGov (DIRECT.GOV.UK). 8 September 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
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- "Choosing subjects for Years 10 and 11: what's compulsory and what's optional". DirectGov. 1 April 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
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- "STANDARD CONDITIONS APPLYING TO OFFERS OF NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL GRANT AID FOR LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION". Norfolk County Council. 2 April 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "Introduction". Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust. Retrieved 21 May 2012.