LEADERSHIP CRISIS: Kirklees Tories won’t budge as Pandor tries to rally support

KIRKLEES Council may face weeks of uncertainty after local Tories said they would not back Labour’s Shabir Pandor as leader.

Coun Pandor (Batley West) is set to make a second bid for the top job at a meeting in Huddersfield on Wednesday, June 29.

He failed to win enough votes last month, which meant chief executive Adrian Lythgo stepped in as interim leader.

This week the Conservatives, who helped block Coun Pandor, said they still could not support his candidacy.

Group leader Coun David Hall (Liversedge and Gomersal) said: “We’re in quite a unique situation.

“For the last 15 or 16 years there hasn’t been a party in majority control of the council.

“But we’ve always had a leader who could command the support of their group and at least one other party.

“Labour have ejected most of the ones who were capable of leading the cabinet and we don’t think Coun Pandor is up to the task.”

Coun Pandor needs 35 out of 69 councillors to vote for him, with the Labour ranks comprising 34 members.

He would need just one extra vote if all his own councillors were in support – but that is not certain.

Four Labour councillors were missing last time after a reported ‘coup’ put Coun Pandor in charge.

The Tories, Lib Dems and Green Party and Valley Independents voted against, leaving Coun Pandor three votes short.

And now there is fall-out from the council tax arrears fiasco, which this week saw two Huddersfield councillors suspended by Labour.

The intentions of former party and council deputy leader Coun Jean Calvert and Coun Amanda Pinnock are unknown.

But under the terms of an internal investigation they are expected to vote with their party until further notice.

Coun Carole Pattison became Labour deputy leader after Coun Calvert was removed.

She may not be in post by June 29 though, amid claims of “horse trading” in the search for votes.

If all 34 Labour councillors get on board, Coun Edgar Holroyd-Doveton (Ind) could be the “plus one”, as he voted in favour last time.

Coun Hall said of the alleged trawl for support: “I understand Coun Pandor is in a very unhappy situation.

“But if they get to 35 votes then there is nothing we or the other groups can do to stop him becoming leader.”

Coun Pandor said: “Kirklees people want and deserve strong leadership which, as the largest party on the council, only Labour can provide.

“We have a strong track record over recent years of working with other parties to deliver for Kirklees and we want to do so again.

“So I hope Coun Hall and other opposition councillors will approach the next council meeting with an open mind and the intention of acting in the best interests of Kirklees residents.”

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