Battle brewing for leadership of Suffolk County Council

Outgoing county council leader Mark Bee.

Outgoing county council leader Mark Bee. - Credit: Archant

Members of Suffolk County Council’s Conservative group have until 5pm tonight to submit nomination papers for the jobs of leader and deputy leader of the authority.

The leadership election was triggered earlier this week when Mark Bee revealed he would not seek re-election to the leadership of the group at its annual general meeting on Tuesday.

Following last year’s bruising election battle with Colin Noble, the scars that opened up have remained – and Mr Bee said he felt another leader would have a better chance of pulling together members of the group with different views.

Nomination forms for the leadership have been submitted by cabinet member for finance Jenny Antill – who is being proposed by Mr Bee – and a completed form from Mr Noble is expected to be submitted by 5pm today.

He has not been answering calls from the media, but it is understood that he has been ringing around Conservative councillors on the authority to gauge their support for a leadership bid.

County council deputy leader Lisa Chambers is also facing a battle if she wants to retain that position. Current council chairman Christopher Hudson is aiming to stand for that position – and more councillors are said to be weighing up their options as well.

The chairman of the Conservative group at the county council, Tony Goldson, has advised his members not to talk to the press about the leadership.

Most Read

He said: “I’m sorry but this is an internal matter. I cannot say anything about Tuesday’s meeting.”

Most members of the group seem to be heeding this advice – and are preparing to spend the Easter weekend on the phone to each other to work out their tactics.

The annual general meeting of the Conservative group is due to start at 10am on Tuesday morning and is expected to last until lunchtime.

All the candidates will have the opportunity to make their pitch to their colleagues and then answer questions before the vote is taken.

The returning officer for the elections will be experienced Conservative agent Peter Burgoyne – but while the name of the victorious candidates will be announced the exact votes they received will not be officially revealed.

However usually there is a leak from one side or another giving the exact figures.

Why Mark Bee fell on his sword – see page 16.