There were emotional scenes in the West Norfolk Council chamber this evening as the authority’s new leader formally took up his post.
Brian Long, who was elected to lead the council’s ruling Conservative group last month, was confirmed in the job during the authority’s annual meeting this evening.
In his acceptance speech, he said the role was a honour he could not have imagined when he was first elected as a councillor in 2003.
But he also paid tribute to his predecessor, Nick Daubney, whom he described as his “colleague, friend and mentor.”
He said: “He has delivered for West Norfolk, working hard for its people and has made a huge difference.
“He must be proud of his achievements, as we are, and it goes without saying he will be a hard act to follow.”
The address triggered an impromptu standing ovation from Tory members before Mr Daubney described the leader’s job as “the proudest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
He added: “It’s been very rewarding for me and a great honour to do that job.”
But, despite stepping down as leader, Mr Daubney will remain a leading figure on the borough’s political scene, having been given the performance portfolio in Mr Long’s new cabinet.
Alistair Beales retains the deputy leadership, as well as his regeneration portfolio, while Mr Long himself keeps the environment job and Richard Blunt continues in the development brief.
Adrian Lawrence takes up a new community portfolio, while Elizabeth Nockolds will take responsibility for culture.
And a newcomer to the cabinet is Kathy Mellish, who has been given a human resources and shared services portfolio.
But there is no place for David Pope, who stood against Mr Long for the leadership, or Lord Howard, who was in Mr Daubney’s previous cabinet.
Mr Long has also named eight new deputy cabinet members, as follows: Peter Colvin, development; Ian Devereux, performance; Peter Hodson; regeneration; Graham Middleton, community; Sandra Squire, environment; Jackie Westrop, human resources and shared services; Avril Wright, culture.
The change of leadership was confirmed during the traditional mayormaking ceremony, which saw Clenchwarton councillor David Whitby take over from Colin Manning, having served as his deputy for the past year. Carol Bower was also confirmed as deputy mayor.
And three long-serving former councillors, John Loveless, Anthony Lovett and Trevor Manley, were all formally appointed as Honorary Aldermen.