Norfolk County Council

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Norfolk County Council
Arms of Norfolk.svg
Coat of arms
Norfolk County Council Logo.svg
Council logo
Non-metropolitan county council of Norfolk
Cllr John Ward,
Leader of the Council
Cllr Cliff Jordan,
Leader of the Opposition
Cllr Steve Morphew,
Seats 84 (43 needed for a majority)
Composition of Norfolk County Council, 2017.svg
Political groups
Largest party
     Conservative Party (55)
Official Opposition
     Labour Party (17)
Other opposition parties
Length of term
up to 4 years
Last election
4 May 2017
Next election
4 May 2021
Meeting place
Norfolk County Hall, Martineau Lane - - 153348.jpg
County Hall
United Kingdom

Norfolk County Council is the top tier council for Norfolk, England.

It has seven local government district councils that sit below it in Norfolk. Breckland District, Broadland District, Great Yarmouth Borough, North Norfolk District, Norwich City, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough and South Norfolk District.


In 1902, the council consisted solely of landowners.[1]

Chairmen of the council prior to 1974

1889-1902 Robert Gurdon, 1st Baron Cranworth

1902-1912 Sir William Browne-ffolkes

1912-1920 John Holmes

1920-1925 Ailwyn Fellowes, 1st Baron Ailwyn

1925-1941 Russell Colman

1941-1950 Sir Henry Upcher

1950-1966 Sir Bartle Edwards

1966-1969 Douglas Sanderson

1969-1974 John Hayden

From this point onwards the role of Chairman became ceremonial with the council being run by a Leader.

The council, as currently constituted, was established in 1974 following the implementation of the Local Government Act 1972, which replaced the two previous county authorities (the County Borough of Norwich and the County of Norfolk) with a single top tier authority for the whole of Norfolk.

In 1967, Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council purchased the Royal Air Force airfield at Horsham St Faiths, which is now Norwich Airport.


Norfolk County Council is currently (since May 2016) run by a Conservative Administration.

Norfolk has traditionally been known for its Conservative stronghold, as they have won over half of Norfolk's parliamentary constituencies since 1979. The countryside is almost all Conservative territory, with few areas being strong for the Liberal Democrats.[2]

The urban areas of Norfolk have always been more mixed in their loyalties, however, and seats in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, and King's Lynn are often held by the Labour Party. From 2009 to 2013 the Greens held the greatest number of Norfolk County Council electoral divisions within the city, however they lost all these seats in 2017.

Unitary controversy

In October 2006 the Department for Communities and Local Government published a White Paper on Local Government inviting councils to submit proposals to them for unitary authority reconstruction of councils.[3] In January 2007 Norwich City Council submitted a bid for unitary status, but that was rejected in December 2008 because it did not meet all of the rigorous criteria for acceptance.[4] In February 2008, the Boundary Committee for England was asked to consider other proposals for all or some of Norfolk, stating whether Norwich should become a unitary authority, meaning it would exercise all local government functions for the city and lie outside the administrative area of Norfolk County Council. The committee recommended a single unitary authority covering all of Norfolk, including Norwich.[5] On 10 February 2010 contrary to the December 2009 recommendation of the Boundary Committee, it was announced that Norwich would have a separate unitary status. The change was strongly resisted first by Norfolk County Council, then by the Conservative opposition in Parliament.[6] To react to that, Norfolk County Council issued a statement about the fact that it would seek leave to challenge the decision in the courts.[7] A private letter was leaked to the local media, stating that the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Communities and the Local Government noted that the decision was unable to meet criteria and there was a risk of it "being successfully challenged in judicial review proceedings is very high".[8] The Shadow Local Government and planning minister, Bob Neill, stated that should the Conservatives win the 2010 general election, they would reverse the decision.[9] The 2010 general election resulted in a Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition government, and on 12 May 2010 Eric Pickles was appointed as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. According to news media reports, Pickles instructed his department to take urgent steps to reverse the decision to create a unitary Norwich, instead maintaining the status quo, in line with the Conservative Party's manifesto.[10][11]

The unitary plans had been supported by the Norwich city council Liberal Democrat group, and also by Simon Wright, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Norwich South, who intended to lobby the party leadership to allow the changes to go ahead.[12]

However, by the Local Government Act 2010 the decision to establish unitary authorities for Norwich, Exeter, and Suffolk was reversed. The disputed award of unitary status for the three area had been taken to judicial review in the High Court of Justice, and on 21 June 2010 the court ruled it as unlawful and revoked the changes. Norwich therefore failed to attain permanent unitary status, and the previous two-tier arrangement of County and District Councils (with Norwich City Council counted among the latter) remains the status quo.[13]

2013 onwards

Following the county elections of May 2013, Norfolk County Council was under no overall control, the Conservatives being the largest party on the Council, with forty Conservative councillors, UKIP having fifteen, Labour fourteen, the Liberal Democrats ten, and the Green Party four, plus one Independent councillor. In a by-election in August 2013, the Labour Party gained one seat from UKIP, thus taking over from UKIP as the second largest political group on the county council. Norfolk County Council's ruling administration was made up of an alliance of non-Conservative councillors (14 UKIP, 15 Labour, 10 Liberal Democrat, 4 Green and 1 independent) with a Labour leader until May 2016.

The alliance collapsed in May 2016 when the Green Party withdrew its support, resulting in the Council electing a Conservative Leader. That lead to a minority Conservative administration running the Council until May 2017.

In the Local Elections of May 2017 the Conservatives won an overall majority of the seats and were able to form a majority administration. The results were Conservative 55, Labour 17, Liberal Democrats 11 with UKIP and the Green Party losing all their seats on the Council.

A controversial project to establish an incinerator at King's Lynn was finally scrapped in April 2014 when County councillors voted by 48 to 30 to end the authority’s contract with the Cory Wheelabrator after a heated debate at County Hall in Norwich on Monday, April 7. That decision was followed by a cabinet meeting, in which members voted unanimously to axe the scheme.[14]

Election results

For the election results, see Norfolk County Council elections

Economy and business

In 2010, Sadiq Khan said "we have agreed to provide significant investment to allow Norfolk County Council to deliver vital improvements which will support jobs, encourage economic growth and attract further investment to the area."[15] A £21 million Community Infrastructure Fund was also proposed.[15] The council spends an average of £56.5 million a month with suppliers.[16]

Education and healthcare

The council is in charge of all state schools throughout Norfolk. There are three nursery schools, 359 primary schools, 35 secondary schools, one all-through school, one free school, one short stay school and 11 special schools.[17] They provide a school finder for parents to find children a school.[18] The primary school curriculum is set by the government, and recorded on Directgov.[19] The secondary (high) school curriculum is set by the government, and recorded on Directgov. There are compulsory subjects which are needed to be followed in Norfolk and England.[20][21][22][23]

In Year 9 (sometimes Year 8), children are required to pick their GCSE options for the forecoming year.[20][22][23][24][25] In England, a student must take at least two optional choices.[22][25]

Norfolk County Council is also responsible for coordinating and managing the healthcare of some 5.6 million people in Norfolk. The government employs 125,000 people in 41 different organizations.[26]

In February 2013, Ofsted inspectors judged that vulnerable children in the county were at risk.[27] Shortly afterwards, the regulator expressed concern about the County's educational provision.[28] Three years later, in August 2016, Ofsted found that Norfolk County Council had still failed to address the regulator's earlier judgements (in February and August 2013, respectively) that the Council's arrangements for the protection of children and for services for looked after children were 'inadequate'.[29]


Norfolk County Council is responsible for maintaining Norfolk's 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) road networks and bus routes.[30] They often go into schools and promote road safety to students.[31]


Norfolk County Council public footpath signpost

Norfolk County Council offered grant aid for landscape conservation, submitted to the Director of Planning and Transportation.[32] Many historic buildings in the county are protected by the Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust, established in 1977, which is under the guidance of the county council.[33] Between 1995 and 2000, the Trust played a major role in restoring the Denver Mill site, at a cost of over £1 million.[32]

Notable members


  1. ^ Blue, Leonard Anderson (1902). The relation of the governor to the organization of executive power in the states .. University of Pennsylvania. p. 42. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Proposals for future unitary structures: Stakeholder consultation". Communities and Local Government. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Norfolk Forward". Norfolk County Council. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Unitary Norwich". Norfolk County Council. 2010. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Our advice to the Secretary of State on unitary local government in Norfolk (PDF Document)" (PDF). The Boundary Committee. 21 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Unitary Authorities". House of Commons Hansard Debates. Parliament of the United Kingdom. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Reaction to announcement on Local Government Reorganisation Announcement". News Archive. Norfolk County Council. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "Peter Housden's letter in full". Eastern Daily Press. 12 February 2010. 
  9. ^ Shaun Lowthorpe (2 February 2010). "At last, a verdict on Norfolk councils' future". Eastern Daily Press. 
  10. ^ Lowthorpe, Shaun (14 May 2010). "Government chief moves to axe Norwich unitary plans". Eastern Daily Press. 
  11. ^ "Pickles stops unitary councils in Exeter, Norwich and Suffolk". Department for Communities and Local Government. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  12. ^ "New bid to end unitary plans". Yarmouth Mercury. 17 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "September by-elections for Exeter and Norwich". BBC News. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  14. ^ "Norfolk County Council ends King's Lynn incinerator contract". 
  15. ^ a b Great Britain: Parliament: House of Lords: Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee (5 March 2010). 12th report of session 2009-10: drawing special attention to, draft Exeter and Devon (Structural Changes) Order 2010, draft Norwich and Norfolk (Structural Changes) Order 2010, report and evidence. The Stationery Office. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-10-844896-6. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  16. ^ "Norfolk County Council ::: Spending Dashboard ::: Open Spending Data bought to life". 
  17. ^ "Childrens Services — Schools". Norfolk County Council. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  18. ^ "School Finder". Norfolk County Council. February 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  19. ^ "The National Curriculum for five to 11 year olds". DirectGov (DIRECT.GOV.UK). 8 September 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "Your Child's Education". DirectGov (DIRECT.GOV.UK). 7 September 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  21. ^ "The National Curriculum for 11 to 16 year olds". DirectGov (DIRECT.GOV.UK). 8 September 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  22. ^ a b c "Choosing subjects for Years 10 and 11: what's compulsory and what's optional". DirectGov. 1 April 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA)". QCA. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  24. ^ "Choices in Year 9(/8)". DirectGov (DIRECT.GOV.UK). 1 April 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  25. ^ a b "Choosing subjects for Years [9] 10 and 11: what's compulsory and what's optional". DirectGov (DIRECT.GOV.UK). 1 April 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  26. ^ Great Britain: Parliament: House of Lords: Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee (5 March 2010). 12th report of session 2009-10: drawing special attention to, draft Exeter and Devon (Structural Changes) Order 2010, draft Norwich and Norfolk (Structural Changes) Order 2010, report and evidence. The Stationery Office. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-10-844896-6. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  27. ^ "Vulnerable children in Norfolk 'put at risk', says report". BBC News Online. BBC. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  28. ^ "Norfolk schools' Ofsted report raises 'considerable concern'". BBC News Online. BBC. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  29. ^ Archer, Graham (5 August 2016). "Direction issued to Norfolk County Council". Retrieved 24 November 2016. 
  30. ^ "Travel and Transport". Norfolk County Council. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  31. ^ "Road Safety". Norfolk County Council. 29 March 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  33. ^ "Introduction". Norfolk Historic Buildings Trust. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 

External links

  • Official website
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