Council leader to resign due to husband's illness

Sarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council. Photo: Sarah Butikofer

Sarah Butikofer, leader of North Norfolk District Council. Photo: Sarah Butikofer - Credit: Archant

The leader of North Norfolk District Council has announced she will resign due to her husband being ill, and following the death of both of her parents. 

Sarah Butikofer, a member of the Liberal Democrats who has led the council for three years, made the announcement at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday (January 5).

Reading from a statement, she spoke emotionally of the "turmoil" Covid has caused in the world and the particular difficulties for those who have fought the virus and lost loved ones.

Pierre Bütikofer (Liberal Democrats) is standing for Hoveton and Stalham division.

Pierre Butikofer, chairman of the licensing and appeals committee at NNDC. - Credit: Supplied by the Liberal Democrats

She said that over the last year both of her parents had died and her husband - Pierre Butikofer, who is also a councillor - is now "seriously ill".

"I can therefore no longer give the time and dedication required to fulfill the role of leader of the council in the manner I would wish to, and give it the attention it deserves," Mrs Butikofer said.

"It has been an immense honour and privilege to lead the council for the last three years and be the leader of the Liberal Democrat group for the last five and a half.

Mrs Butikofer will remain in the role until a new leader is elected.

This time last year, she spoke to this newspaper of her parents' battle with coronavirus.

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At the time, her mother was on end-of-life care and her father was in a critical condition after both contracting Covid-19.

Liberal Democrat councillor Sarah Bütikofer. Picture: North Norfolk District Council

Sarah Butikofer has announced her resignation as leader of NNDC. - Credit: North Norfolk District Council

In her resignation statement, Mrs Butikofer said: "Over the last two years Covid has caused turmoil in our world and it has been hard for many people for different reasons, some through the stresses of work and delivering services to keep us all safe, including many of the team here at the council, those whose lives were put on hold including many of our businesses, and not forgetting our young people.

"It has been particularly hard for those who fought the virus and lost loved ones, friends and family.

"Those closest to me will know that a year ago today my life was changed forever. Since then I have also lost my father and now my husband is seriously ill."

Mrs Butikofer, who represents Beeston Regis and The Runtons ward, was elected leader of the council in November 2018 after a vote of no confidence in then leader John Lee, who had led the Conservative group.