Angry councillors trade bitter blows

Issue 480

ANGRY WORDS have been exchanged as councillors continue to trade blows over regeneration plans in Dewsbury.
Regeneration Board chief Paul Kane this week hit back at Tory Khizar Iqbal’s criticism of the ruling party’s inaction – and also claimed that Coun Iqbal tried to join the Labour Party earlier this year.
Coun Iqbal, who represents Dewsbury South, was an Independent at the time but has since rejoined the Conservative Party.
Coun Kane (Lab, Dewsbury East) claims that a meeting was held at Dewsbury Town Hall after Coun Iqbal had contacted Labour leader Mehboob Khan with a view to joining the party.
Coun Iqbal doesn’t deny the meeting took place – but says that Labour had approached HIM.
In last week’s Press Coun Iqbal slammed recent regeneration efforts in Dewsbury, but then came under fire from his Labour opponents for “talking the town down”.
“Nothing positive ever comes out of his mouth, it’s continuously draining, having to fight with him,” said Coun Kane.
“On a personal note I’ve got nothing against him and I’m still happy to work with him, it’s just I’m not going to be dictated to by someone who has no real political allegiance.
“It’s galling that he accuses Labour of doing nothing for Dewsbury, but earlier this year he was seeking membership of the party. That isn’t the politics of conviction.
“I’d also like to remind people that he has both held the regeneration portfolio for Dewsbury and been on the Kirklees Cabinet when the Tories were in power. I’m sorry, but nothing was done.
“I’m proud of my record, I do a hell of a lot of work for the town and will always fight for Dewsbury. We all need to work together and it’s exhausting having to deal with this. I think more has been done in Dewsbury in the last 18 months than in the last eight years.”
Coun Iqbal was angry that his Labour opponent had launched a “personal attack” on him and said: “I don’t know why they’re bringing this up, it’s childish behaviour. I can confirm that there was a meeting, but it took place at the request of Mehboob Khan. I have a letter to prove it, and I was offered a position in the Cabinet if I joined. I declined.
“But this is a nonissue, and I can’t see the relevance of it. It’s typical infantile behaviour to deflect from the fact that nothing is happening with regeneration in the town centre and all the money goes to Huddersfield.
“If Labour were serious about regeneration in Dewsbury then Paul Kane would be in the Kirklees cabinet getting things done.
“Well done to Paul Kane for setting up more talking shops in Dewsbury. Good luck to him. As soon as you challenge them they get personal, and it’s really disappointing.”
On Wednesday Labour leader Mehboob Khan tried to calm the row between the two councillors and issued the following statement: “During 2010 and 2011 there were confidential discussions between Coun Iqbal and Labour Party representatives regarding Coun Iqbal’s future in local politics.
“I can confirm discussions included membership of the Labour Party, but both sides concluded there wasn’t going to be any progress and talks ended with a mutual agreement not to take it any further.”

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