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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Leadership challenge imminent for Kirklees Labour group

The leadership of the Labour group is set to be decided tonight(13 May)

Change could soon be on the way for Kirklees Council as Leader, Cllr Cathy Scott, is expected to imminently face a challenge to her leadership.

With Kirklees Council being thrown into disarray with Labour’s loss of overall control at the local elections, the stability of the council is at stake. Tonight (13 May), at their Annual General Meeting, Kirklees’ Labour group will be selecting a leader.

The position of Deputy Leader is also up for grabs as Cllr Paul Davies previously announced that he will be standing down at tonight’s meeting so he can focus on his ambitions to become MP for the Colne Valley.

The group is down by nine seats compared to this time last year, now holding 30 of all 69 seats on the council. Since January, five councillors have resigned over the Party’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict and other seats were lost in the recent local elections.

Current leader, Cllr Cathy Scott, has already stated that she hopes to continue in her post as leader going forwards. However, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands that she will be challenged by Greenhead’s Cllr Carole Pattison and Golcar’s Cllr Graham Turner.

As for the Deputy post, Cllr Moses Crook (Holme Valley South) is thought to be the top contender. Councillor Mus Khan – the latest Kirklees councillor to resign from the Labour Party over its stance on the Middle East – was another councillor in the running.

The Labour resignations began with Dewsbury West councillor, Cllr Ammar Anwar, who announced he was leaving the party over the situation in Gaza in a tearful speech at a council meeting back in January. Councillors Jo Lawson, Imran Safdar and former councillor Ebrahim Dockrat followed suit in the weeks that followed.

The four councillors formed a new group on the council – the Kirklees Community Independents – with Cllr Lawson, the leader.

The Labour group also took a hit at the local elections, losing four seats, with the spots of former Leader Shabir Pandor, and Cabinet Members Jackie Ramsay and Mussarat Pervaiz having their spots poached by Independent candidates. Labour now holds 30 of all 69 seats on the council.

Just prior to the elections, it came to light that Cllr Paul Moore (Labour, Dewsbury East) was facing charges of causing a public nuisance and carrying on a business with the intent to defraud creditors or for other fraudulent reasons. The councillor has been administratively suspended from the Party, with the automatic effect of suspending the Labour whip on the council.

Speaking after the local elections, Cllr Cathy Scott said the group needed to go “back to the drawing board” and is listening to the local community.

As Labour now has no overall control of the council but remains the biggest party, it could continue to lead as a minority administration. An alternative would be to form a coalition with another group.

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