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What is Norfolk County Council and What Does It Do?

by Steff on 20 June, 2017

I’ve learned a lot more about this since I started campaigning, although I’m still getting to grips with things at County Hall – the big soviet-like building on the ring road South of Norwich where the County Council is based.

We have lots of different Councils in Norfolk and they each look after different things. District Councils (ours is North Norfolk) take care of planning, waste collection and many other things. The County Council coordinates waste recycling, transport, highways, economic development, children’s services, adult services, libraries, museums and more. I plan to attend each of the committees that oversee these different functions in the coming months, and will report back on what I find.

There are a total of just over 80 councillors, who were elected in May like me. The majority of them are Conservatives, in fact more than 50% which means the Conservative group on the Council has a majority and can force through most decisions. My experience so far is that sadly, as well as having this power, they don’t want as many different voices on committees, even if that means missing out on their experience or expertise. There are some individual exceptions to this, but in Conservative politics, most people vote according to what they’re told by the “Whips” (people who enforce the decisions of the group leader) or they face limited career opportunities or even getting chucked out of the party. In the Liberal Democrat group we don’t do whipping – we leave that sort of punishment to the voters and commentators!

I have also been voted by the other Liberal Democrat councillors to be the deputy group leader. There are a total of eleven of us, seven of whom actually represent areas in North Norfolk, so we have something of an outpost here. We are getting on well with our Labour colleagues who are in the same boat as us – their stronghold is in Norwich.

Finally: I thought it might be worth sharing that I get paid to be a Councillor. It’s just under £9,500 a year, taxable at source, plus an extra bit for being the deputy group leader. This means I can commit a decent amount of working time to doing the job. Some of that time will be spent in council meetings in Norwich (the Council chamber is a bit like a small version of Parliament) and some of it meeting with people who work for the council, often to raise the issues you raise with me. The rest of the time I intend to spend in Melton Constable division, so I can keep my feet and ears close to the ground.

   2 Comments

2 Responses

  1. Margaret Loake says:

    Well done Steffan – it’s great to get such good feedback. Look forward to hearing what else goes on at Norfolk County Council.

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