Growing authoritarianism on Norfolk County Council

by Steff on 16 July, 2019

It might come as some surprise to hear that I have some respect for the Conservative party.  There are times when being considered, and not acting rashly, are the right positions to take.  Equally, Robert Peel’s repeal of the Corn Laws was one of the most radical acts of social justice in modern politics – not to mention the fact that they are the only UK party successfully to have elected a female prime minister.

However, as the national party prepares to elect an incompetent racist with a history of both direct and indirect acts of violence, it seems Trump-like authoritarianism is extending into local politics too.  Pathetic as it might seem, the administration on Norfolk County Council has, in the past week: banned an elected politician from entering County Hall, limited the number of members of the public permitted to attend a public meeting, blocked – potentially unlawfully – a motion from even reaching the council chamber, and only narrowly decided against barring members of its own party from attending parts of cabinet meetings. 

These acts are all the result of the new “executive leadership” model, imposed by the administration, led by Councillor Andrew Proctor. Under this model, the politicians in charge at County Hall oversee its operations as well as its policymaking. There is no longer a managing director, and an increasing number of decisions are taken behind closed doors rather than in public.

This is a time when, I believe, the way things were worked better for the people of Norfolk. Members of that party have approached me with their grievances. Given what has happened in North Norfolk, it is not unforeseeable that a similar story may unfold on Norfolk County Council. Whether you are a Conservative supporter, an opponent, or simply an impartial citizen, the erosion of transparency, public accountability and scrutiny under the current leadership should be a grave cause for concern.

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