Tax arrears councillors must quit – Tory leader

TWO councillors suspended over the council tax arrears fiasco should resign, Tory leader David Hall has said.

Coun Jean Calvert and Coun Amanda Pinnock face a disciplinary panel of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC). The pair could be expelled from the party, but if that were to happen they would remain on the council as independents.

There would only be a by-election if they resigned their seats, as there is no power of recall.

Coun Hall (Con, Liversedge and Gomersal) said: “Once a person is elected they’re elected, no matter what they’ve done.

“If the Labour Party wants them out then they would sit as independents until their term expires.”

The suspensions followed claims which were said to have brought Labour into disrepute.

Coun Hall said: “It is reported they both had the gall to deny they were among the culprits.

“If this is true, they have been exposed as not telling the truth, and that is no example to set to the electorate and no way to behave as councillors.

“It calls into question their fitness for public office. How is it any form of justice if they remain?”

Coun Hall rejected a charge of hypocrisy over how Tory Coun Donna Bellamy was also in council tax arrears.

He said: “In her case it was for £27 and she wasn’t sent a reminder but a court summons.

“The first she knew of a problem was the court summons and as soon she was aware the bill was paid.

“I’ve accepted that as her explanation and it should be contrasted with that of other councillors who were hundreds of pounds in arrears.”

Coun Hall added he has told all his group to pay by direct debit, preferably the full amount in a single payment.

A Labour spokesman confirmed both Coun Calvert and Coun Pinnock have been suspended.

Group leader Coun Shabir Pandor (Lab, Batley West) said: “I have taken action against the councillors.

“As a result they have done the right thing and stepped down from outside bodies, chairs of committees and the Labour group deputy leadership.

“I have asked the Labour group whip to look into these issues fairly and transparently.

“And I have asked the regional Labour Party to provide an independent person from outside Kirklees to ensure the process is robust and impartial.”

Coun Pandor added: “The Tories should get their own house in order before throwing criticism at us.

“They should reflect on their own record on how they have dealt with their own councillors in the past.”

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