Elections 2021: Kirklees remains under no overall control

Kirklees Council is still under no overall control after Labour failed to gain enough seats to build an outright majority.

Saturday, 8th May 2021, 8:51 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th May 2021, 8:54 pm
Candidates await the results at today's election count at Cathedral House in Huddersfield

The balance of power is now Labour (33), Conservatives (19), Liberal Democrats (9), Greens (3) and Independents (5).

It followed 72 hours of voting, verification and counting during which 118 candidates contested 25 seats across 23 wards.

There were some surprises during the course of Saturday’s count.

Coun Shabir Pandor, leader of Kirklees Council

Labour group leader Shabir Pandor – who also leads Kirklees Council – retained his seat, as did Green group leader Andrew Cooper and Independent group leader Charles Greaves.

But senior Labour councillor Graham Turner, a member of the decision-making cabinet, lost his Denby Dale seat to Tory challenger Tim Bamford.

Coun Pandor said he was ”really gutted” to lose a colleague with the experience and status of Coun Turner but that he was not overly disappointed with the overall result.

“We have lost a councillor and gained two others. However our votes have gone down," he said.

“Locally we have a very clear plan and manifesto in Kirklees, and we are investing hugely.

“The question is now what is the national focus?”

Coun John Taylor, for the Conservatives, said the result in the district showed that the public wants “change in Kirklees”.

He added: “We are really pleased that we have increased the number of Conservative councillors and that the Conservative vote was up to 38 per cent across the borough against Labour’s 35 per cent.

“I’m looking forward to working with other parties in changing Kirklees.”

With Labour lacking an overall majority, the Greens’ Andrew Cooper said it was time to begin a conversation with other parties.

He said: “They have to ask themselves serious questions about their leadership and about how they can work in a constructive manner with other parties.

“They have to learn to listen, not just to other parties, but more generally to the public.”

Those comments were echoed by Lib Dem group leader John Lawson, who said: “Before Labour had a majority, Kirklees had been in no overall control for some years and there had been a respectful way of working among the parties.

“It’s up to Labour, having lost their majority, to approach the other parties and find a way of working together for the benefit of the residents of Kirklees.”

He added: “I would hope that now would be the time to improve transparency in the running of the council.”

Tory newcomers to the council chamber include Adam Gregg, who took Lindley from the Lib Dems’ Richard Eastwood, and Melanie Stephen, who held the safe seat of Liversedge and Gomersal after party colleague Michelle Grainger-Mead stepped down.

Mr Gregg, an assistant to Dewsbury MP Mark Eastwood, said he was “absolutely honoured and delighted” to be elected and thanked his local team for their support.

He added: “I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with our local MP Jason McCartney to tackle local priorities.”

There were some big majorities for Labour. In Greenhead Sheikh Ullah polled 3,003 votes and in Crosland Moor and Netherton Manisha Kaushik took 2,490.

In Dewsbury South Jackie Ramsay polled 2,259 votes to secure the ward for Labour following the de-selection of Coun Gulfam Asif.

In Almondbury Conservative Bernard McGuin saw off a challenge from the Lib Dems with a majority that leapt from just 60 to 1,363.

He said he fought the election on multiple local issues including concerns about losing green belt to housing, the controversial closure of Almondbury Community School and the ongoing furore about Castle Hill.

Independent group leader Charles Greaves kept his seat in Holme Valley North with a majority of just 113 votes. He thanked voters for “putting their trust in me” and said there were some exciting projects “in the pipeline”.

He added: “It’s good to win but clearly we need to get out and convince those other residents that independents are the right choice. We need to prove ourselves.”