The leader of Norfolk County Council has been toppled in a Conservative coup.

Graham Plant, who has led the authority for less than a month, lost a leadership challenge to party rival Kay Mason Billig.

Members voted him out at the county Tory group's annual general meeting on Friday.

Diss Mercury: Kay Mason Billig is set to become the new leader of Norfolk County CouncilKay Mason Billig is set to become the new leader of Norfolk County Council (Image: South Norfolk Council)

Mrs Mason Billig will now face a vote of the full council on May 9 - days after the district council elections - to confirm her appointment as County Hall leader.

Diss Mercury: Graham PlantGraham Plant (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Plant, who was previously deputy leader of the council, stepped in as leader last month after Andrew Proctor took a leave of absence due to ill health.

Mr Proctor had informed his group ahead of its meeting that he would not stand for leader and Mr Plant, who represents Gorleston St Andrews, found himself challenged for the role by Mrs Mason Billig.

Mrs Mason Billig, who represents the Loddon division at County Hall and is also deputy leader of South Norfolk Council, said: "I am delighted to be elected by my colleagues and am looking forward to continuing with our positive agenda for Norfolk.

"I would like to pay tribute to my predecessor Andrew Proctor, who sadly stepped down due to ill health and wish him the best for the future and a speedy recovery.

Diss Mercury: Andrew ProctorAndrew Proctor (Image: Norfolk County Council)

"The Conservative Group wants to continue to build upon his good work and the many opportunities open to us, including making the most out of the County Deal.

"We are in a unique position being the only county still in the running this year and now is the ideal time for more talks with the government to ensure that any devolution is the best it can possibly be for Norfolk.

"I hope that I can bring fresh eyes and a new perspective to the county council whilst ensuring it continues to provide the best possible services to the residents of Norfolk."

Diss Mercury: Andrew JamiesonAndrew Jamieson (Image: Norfolk County Council)

Andrew Jamieson, the council's cabinet member for finance had seconded Mrs Mason Billig's nomination. He has become deputy leader of the group.

The leadership change will trigger a reshuffle of the Conservative-controlled council's cabinet, with posts set to be agreed by full council on May 9.