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Alex Kemp quits cabinet role on West Norfolk Council after weeks of unrest

A dramatic turn of events has seen a West Norfolk Council cabinet member step down from her position.

Independent councillor Alex Kemp, who was only appointed the borough council’s cabinet member for people and communities in May, has announced her decision following several weeks of clear unrest.

She had served as a highly effective opposition councillor in recent years, but has been vocal in her criticisms of policy since the Independent group formed a minority administration with the Greens and Lib Dems.

Cllr Alex Kemp has stepped down from her cabinet role. Picture: West Norfolk Council
Cllr Alex Kemp has stepped down from her cabinet role. Picture: West Norfolk Council

And now, the first non-Conservative council in two decades has been rocked by her decision.

Cllr Kemp said she feels she cannot support the cabinet’s “general direction of travel” – and claimed she has witnessed “values of common human decency trampled”.

She said she became a councillor “to put people first”, but now is worried that the borough council could be prepared to “risk” building thousands of new homes in West Winch even if the Government fails to provide funding for a bypass.

“In this cabinet, I have found that putting views forward has been met with downright hostility at times – as if you shouldn’t have opinions. This is an issue which has played a key role in my decision to leave today,” Cllr Kemp told the Lynn News.

“I felt that joining the Independent group and the Independent administration would be different – that there would be much more openness, transparency and democracy.

“But it seems to me that the way cabinets work are not particularly conducive to democracy. There needs to be much more leeway.”

Cllr Kemp’s short term in cabinet was marked by a number of controversies.

At a fiery full council meeting earlier this month, she cast doubt on the Independent administration’s aims for the Lynn Town Deal after she expressed anger at plans to replace the Carnegie Library with a new multi-use community facility.

“I think that we need to speak out and make change, and I think that with a new administration there needs to be a change in direction and things need to happen that are different,” Cllr Kemp added today.

“I think that the right thing for me is to continue as a lone councillor the way that I have done.”

Council leader Terry Parish said: “I have just come from a meeting with Cllr Kemp, where she expressed her decision to leave cabinet.

“We discussed her concerns and went through a number of options which might have enabled her to stay. She has her reasons for her decision which include what she sees as a conflict of interest with her county division work and her ward councillor work.

“It is regrettable that she has decided to leave cabinet as she would have done a good job with this portfolio. However, I respect both the decision she has made and her reasons for it.

“I have assured her I will take no action on reallocating portfolio responsibilities for the next 24 hours to give her the opportunity to reflect on her decision, should she wish to change her mind.”

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