Call to leave vacant seat unfilled until May poll

Call to leave vacant seat unfilled until May poll

Dewsbury East councillor Aleks Lukic has called for political leaders to keep the seat that belonged to his ward colleague Paul Kane unfilled until next year.

Mr Kane was found dead at his home on Tuesday, shortly after tendering his resignation. His current term was due to end in May and would have marked 25 years of service.

A December 12 by-election was triggered for the seat before Mr Kane’s death became known, along with that of Colne Valley in South Kirklees, after Coun Nel Griffiths stood down for health reasons. 

But Kirklees returning officer and chief executive Jacqui Gedman decided not to pause the timetable, publishing the notice of election for Mr Kane’s seat the day after his death.

The by-election can only be cancelled if all sides agree not to put forward candidates, but any arrangement has to be made quickly as nominations are due to close in a few days.

Coun Lukic says his Heavy Woollen Independents are ready to stand down if all sides will follow suit and it is understood the Green Party has decided not to stand regardless of what other parties decide.

But The Press understands that defeated former Labour councillor Eric Firth is determined to stand if the poll goes ahead on December 12, alongside the General Election.

Coun Lukic said: “We have the opportunity to leave Paul Kane’s seat alone for now as a mark of respect. I don’t know why anyone would want a December by-election in these circumstances when it is due in May anyway.”

“I am deeply unhappy that there hasn’t been a respectful pause after this tragic end to Paul’s long service and we are instead being thrown straight into candidate nominations. A pause of one week would have been legally possible and would have allowed this week to be left for reflection on Paul’s memory.

“If other parties or individuals want to have this election now then we will stand against them, but we think it would be best if everybody agreed to leave this contest until May.

Coun Lukic had not had replies from the other parties before our news deadline.

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