Suffolk: Bee confirmed as leader as councillors return to Endeavour House

Mark Bee

Mark Bee - Credit: Ashley Pickering

CONSERVATIVE leader Mark Bee has been unanimously backed to carry on in the role after his party retained power in last week’s county council elections.

The party’s majority was cut from 35 to just three – but it avoided the fate of the Norfolk Tories who lost power altogether.

Mr Bee had been provisionally re-elected group leader and Lisa Chambers elected as deputy leader before the election.

The new Conservative group gave them a unanimous vote of confidence in the roles when they met for the first time since the election yesterday.

Senior backbencher Joanna Spicer said: “It was more than just a unanimous vote of confidence, there was a round of applause for Mark and Lisa at the meeting. Things have changed at the council, but we have the right team in place.”

Although last week’s election results across Suffolk were bad for the Conservatives, in two divisions the party did buck the trend and win seats from their opponents.

Both their gains – in Hadleigh and in the Hardwick division of Bury St Edmunds – were in seats where the sitting Liberal Democrats stood down.

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The new county councillors – Brian Riley in Hadleigh and Sarah Stamp in Hardwick – were both already well-known to the voters as members of Babergh and St Edmundsbury councils already.

And their victories were crucial to the final make-up of the council – had the Tories not won the two seats, the party would have been left with just 37 seats, one short of an overall majority.

County councillors – both new and returning members – have begun the process of signing into the authority.

Over the next few days they are being issued with security cards, e-mail addresses and having their photographs taken for the county council website.

At present there is no cabinet – Mr Bee will be working on that over the next fortnight – and the normal business of the council will not resume until its annual meeting on May 23.

That will decide the cabinet and the make-up of the council’s various committees – which will start to meet in June.