By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
THE Leader of Kirklees Council has re-shuffled his Cabinet – the executive decision-making body of councillors responsible for policies, plans and strategies.
Coun Shabir Pandor has described the shake-up as “a reshaping to deliver the ambitions of the council for the people of Kirklees”.
It has seen the departure of Dewsbury South Coun Masood Ahmed, the council’s Cabinet member for Learning and Aspiration, who has been at the centre of controversies over the future of Almondbury Community School (ACS), part of which is earmarked for closure in 2020. Six of the nine Labour Cabinet members are from south Kirklees, including all three councillors of the Dalton ward.
Coun Ahmed had faced criticism from parents of children at ACS for “dodging” key questions during a contentious consultation exercise.
At a Cabinet meeting in April parents asked for clarity on the redrawing of catchment areas, rumour surrounding interest in ACS from a Calderdale-based academy, what Kirklees intended to do with land and buildings if the school closed, and the effect on children.
Coun Ahmed replied that a consultation was ongoing and that he didn’t want to jeopardise that. He was backed by Coun Pandor, who said “all views will be taken into account”.
Coun Pandor said he was “sad” to announce that his colleague was stepping down “for personal reasons”.
“Coun Ahmed made this decision several weeks ago but he wanted to ensure continuity and deliver the ‘options report’ on Almondbury Community High School before he finished,” said Coun Pandor.
His role is taken by Coun Carole Pattison, a veteran councillor and chair of the Labour Group. Coun Rob Walker takes on the role of portfolio holder for Culture and Environment.
The new Cabinet line-up comprises: Viv Kendrick (Children); Musarrat Khan (Health and Social Care); Naheed Mather (Greener Kirklees, a change from Communities and Environment); Peter McBride (Regeneration, and Deputy Leader of the Council); Carole Pattison (Learning, Aspiration and Communities); Cathy Scott (Housing and Democracy); Graham Turner (Corporate); Rob Walker (Culture and Environment) and Coun Pandor (Council Leader). Coun Pandor’s responsibilities include strategy for the council, regional relationships, budget development, strategic partnerships and inclusive growth as well as diversity.