Senior Conservatives in West Norfolk have called for a new start in the wake of Derrick Murphy’s departure as leader of the party’s county council group.
West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney, one of the subjects of the critical email which triggered the crisis, admitted yesterday that relations between himself and Mr Murphy had broken down.
He added: “I hope this gives us the opportunity to rebuild relationships and to do what’s right for the people of Norfolk.”
Though Mr Daubney declined to say who he would prefer to succeed Mr Murphy, he did say the authority had been working with the county council’s current acting leader, Bill Borrett, on a range of issues.
“We disagree on the incinerator, but I think in mature politics you can disagree on some issues and still work together on others.”
Meanwhile, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said the chain of events that led to Mr Murphy’s downfall had always been about the incinerator plan and urged the new leadership to change course.
He said: “I do think now is the time for a fresh start, not just in terms of leadership, but over the incinerator. The county council needs to pay Cory Wheelabrator to go away.”
But Mike Knights, vice-chairman of King’s Lynn Without Incineration (KLWIN), said: “Mr Murphy’s conduct is just a symptom of more serious problems lying at the heart of Norfolk County Council.
“I do not expect he will be missed but, until the entire leadership is reformed, Mr Murphy’s departure will make little difference.”
One of the residents who brought the case against Mr Murphy criticised the standards committee’s ruling.
John Martin claimed the committee had failed to treat the complaints as seriously as they deserved to be.
He said: “I fear that this will send out a message to the public of Norfolk that the standards and ethics regime in County Hall is far from robust.
“We now need to take advice as to the most appropriate means to challenge this decision.
But committee chairman Tony Tomkinson said: “The committee has listened very carefully to a large amount of evidence placed before it today before reaching its conclusions.