By Tony Earnshaw -LDRS

Kirklees Council Leader Shabir Pandor has appointed Paul Davies to his Cabinet with immediate effect.

Clr Davies replaces Clr Rob Walker, who quit the Labour Party last week.

Clr Davies, a primary school teacher and former coal face electrician who only joined the council last year, will take on responsibility for the Culture and Greener Kirklees portfolio.

Clr Pandor said it was “important to act quickly” in making the appointment following the resignation of Clr Walker, who stepped down citing “national issues” within the party.

He added that Clr Davies’ sense of public duty “makes him the right choice for this role at a critical moment”.

Clr Davies also represents Holme Valley North, which sits within the Colne Valley constituency. His predecessor is married to the former Colne Valley Labour MP Thelma Walker and was elected to represent the Colne Valley ward.

Clr Walker, along with colleagues Lesley Warner and Richard Murgatroyd, who also resigned from Labour last week, will sit as independents.

The trio quit in protest at Sir Keir Starmer’s decision to block former party leader Jeremy Corbyn from sitting as a Labour MP.

The resignations means the Labour administration no longer has a majority on the council.

However the trio is still expected to vote with ex-party colleagues on key issues.

In announcing the addition to Cabinet Clr Pandor said one of its biggest challenges in the weeks to come was to manage a Covid vaccination programme to “put Kirklees on the road to recovery”.

He added: “With Paul’s appointment, the council’s top team will continue to address the urgent challenges the pandemic poses as well as making sure we develop and deliver high quality services to everyone in our borough. The people of Kirklees rightly expect and deserve nothing less.”