COUNCIL LEADER OUSTED IN LABOUR COUP

COUNCIL LEADER OUSTED IN LABOUR COUP

LABOUR big beast David Sheard has been ousted as Kirklees Council leader – in a coup by his own party.

Coun Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike) went on the warpath about his dismissal amid claims that the Labour group is divided following the revolt.

He was axed at a meeting of Labour councillors in Huddersfield on Monday night.

They were reported to have voted 19 to 13 in favour of making Coun Shabir Pandor (Lab, Batley West) the new party leader.

Labour have 34 councillors, two of whom either did not vote or did not attend the meeting.

Coun Pandor will be put forward as council leader at the authority’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, May 25.

Coun Sheard, who took the top job two years ago, remains in post until then and says he will accept the decision.

But whether Coun Pandor becomes council leader depends on being voted for by a majority of at least 35 out of 69 councillors.

Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) pointed to the apparent split at Labour’s Monday meeting.

He said: “If those 13 people went to the toilet during the meeting it would leave Coun Pandor vulnerable.

“If they they can keep their 34 ducks in a row they would only need one more vote.

“But that could depend on how many crumbs Coun Pandor has to offer in order to retain support.”

Shabir Pandor New Labour chief Coun Shabir Pandor

Coun Sheard became leader with help from Green and independent councillors while the Tories and Lib Dems either voted against or abstained.

It is claimed objections to the Local Plan were a motivating factor in his removal.

Deputy council leader Coun Jean Calvert is against proposals to build 2,500 homes on Bradley Park Golf Course.

She was re-elected as Labour deputy leader at Monday’s meeting and will be put forward to keep her council role on May 25.

Coun Calvert has been off sick for much of the year and has missed a number of meetings.

Coun Bolt has an interest as any housing development would have a knock-on effect to neighbouring Mirfield.

He said: “We were originally told the Local Plan is strategic and for the greater good.

“If there are changes now then it will be political expedience and opportunism driving it.

“And if the golf course is suddenly struck out, then is that strategic or a pay-off for supporting Coun Pandor?”

Coun Sheard took to Twitter to vent anger at those who claimed they would vote for him on Monday.

“What really surprises me is how well so many people could lie within hours of the Group meeting,” he tweeted.

He then took aim at Coun Pandor after he said Labour underperformed at last week’s council election.

The party failed to take control of the council and remain one seat short of a majority.

Coun Sheard tweeted: “Perhaps if you had put some time in your Cabinet job you could have suggested different policies, or at least questioned.”

He next suggested Coun Pandor intended to form a Cabinet based on ethnicity.

The current Cabinet is made up of five men and four women and Coun Pandor is the only member of Asian heritage.

Of those nine, five represent North Kirklees wards, including three from Heckmondwike.

And most of them, such as Heckmondwike councillor Viv Kendrick, are seen as supporters of Coun Sheard.

Coun Sheard posted on Twitter of Coun Pandor: “He wants a Cabinet based on ethnicity, I wanted a Cabinet based on ability.”

Coun Pandor said he wants a better balance among wards from the north and south of the district.

He added: “I want my Cabinet to be ethnically diverse and balanced between men and women.

“Together as a team we can take Kirklees to the next level and make sure our borough punches above its weight.”

David Sheard Tweet 1 One of the controversial tweets from Coun David Sheard

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