Alan Waters, leader of the city council, and his deputy leader, Gail Harris, have confirmed today that they won't be standing for election next May at the end of their four-year term of office.
Cllr Waters, a city councillor for over 30 years, admitted it was a really difficult decision. He said: “While it was a difficult decision, I believe it was the right one. By next May I will have been a city councillor for 32 years, over one-third of that time as leader of the council. It has been a tremendous privilege to work with so many talented and committed people over the years – both within and outside of the council – and to serve the city I was born into and will be forever attached to.
“The hard work and dedication of both officers and councillors was never more evident than in more recent times when everyone rose to the challenges of Covid to support residents across Norwich. It demonstrated the vital role that the council plays in the city.
"Cllr Harris, deputy leader and portfolio holder for housing, is also stepping down next May. Gail has been an exceptional colleague and one of the finest housing cabinet members I’ve had the privilege and honour to work with over many years.
“But there’s still much work to be done over the coming months so we will be working at full stretch to achieve the very best outcomes for the council and residents and to ensure there is strong political continuity after May 2023.”
Cllr Harris said: “I have been very privileged to represent Catton Grove ward since 2012. Working with Alan as deputy leader, and as cabinet member for social housing has been a demanding but fulfilling role. I know we both have our residents and tenants at the heart of everything we do. But all that we have strived to do would not have been possible without the support of so many dedicated officers and councillors at the city council.
"The cost of living crisis is of concern to us all and as a council I know we will do everything we can to support our residents in these troubling times. So, our work continues – and will continue to the very last day we are both councillors.”
Stephen Evans, the city council’s chief executive, added: “I would like to say thank you personally and on behalf of all officers at Norwich City Council to Cllr Waters and Cllr Harris for everything they have achieved. It has been a pleasure to work with them both over the past three years. Alan and Gail's commitment to Norwich and to the city council is clear for all to see and their positive legacy is assured.
“They are amongst the hardest working and dedicated councillors I've worked with during my career. Cllr Waters and Cllr Harris genuinely care about the city, the people of Norwich and my fellow colleagues. I know they will continue to work as hard as ever through to next May and provide support to whoever takes over.”
The new leader and deputy leader will be determined after the city council elections in May.