Breckland leader pulls out of MP race

BRECKLAND Council leader William Nunn has pulled out of the race to be the new south-west Norfolk MP.

BRECKLAND Council leader William Nunn has pulled out of the race to be the new south-west Norfolk MP.

Mr Nunn, who was among the first to throw his hat in the ring following Christopher Fraser's decision to quit, this week revealed he had had a change of heart and wants to concentrate on local government instead.

It is the second time the Conservative councillor has withdrawn from the south-west Norfolk contest - previously he was put off becoming an MP because he had a young family.

And it comes at a turbulent time for the Breckland leader, who has been forced to defend his administration's handling of a controversial �7m deal to buy the Barnham Broom country hotel and golf club.

Previously, he was leaned on by Conservative party chairman Eric Pickles to drop plans to force a potentially divisive county council vote on the unitary issue in the middle of the Norwich North by-election.

And in the aftermath of the Tories' thumping county council victory, Mr Nunn unsuccessfully challenged party leader Daniel Cox for his job.

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But Mr Nunn insisted that the fall-out from those events were nothing to do with his decision and instead he had second thoughts about whether he was best suited to Westminster politics.

He also wanted to focus on helping councils work more efficiently together to save cash in the wake of expected cuts in government funding.

“I felt duty-bound to go for this one so I put my name forward,” Mr Nunn said. “But it's about where you can make the most difference, and I think I can make the most difference here in Norfolk. I am not a London boy and I'm not one who likes to be told what's right if I believe it to be wrong.”

Around 160 people have applied for the job, with the candidate due to be picked next month.

Among those interested in the job are Stephen Bett, a county councillor, and chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, who is also the party agent in North-West Norfolk, King's Lynn and West Norfolk borough council leader Nick Daubney, and James Tumbridge, who stood against Ian Gibson in Norwich North at the last general election.

In a further twist, speculation is rife that senior Tories tried to persuade former chief of the general staff Sir Richard Dannatt, who lives in south Norfolk, to stand.

But Gen Sir Richard sidestepped the question when asked by the EDP whether he had been approached.

“I have just retired from 40 years in the army and am not rushing to commit myself to another full-time job for a while,” Gen Sir Richard said.

Meanwhile Conservatives vying to be the new South-West Norfolk MP will not face an 'open primary' in order to get selected.

Ian Sherwood, party agent for South-West Norfolk, said that because of the tight timetable involved, the selection would be a two-stage process, with the executive whittling down the applicants to around 10 people who would then go in front of party members on October 24.

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