Kirklees Council’s Labour leader, Shabir Pandor, has abruptly resigned following revelations that he was expected to face a no-confidence vote, which he was likely to lose. Mr. Pandor had been the council leader since 2018, previously serving as the deputy leader from 2016.
The no-confidence vote gained momentum when over 50% of Kirklees’ Labour councillors expressed their intention to vote against Mr. Pandor in the upcoming confidence vote. The decision was partially prompted by accusations from Kirklees Conservatives that he had mishandled the case of Fazila Loonat, a councillor for the neighbouring Batley East ward. Loonat was convicted of perverting the course of justice to evade a speeding penalty and later resigned, leading to a by-election for her seat.
The situation escalated when it was revealed that Mr. Pandor had been avoiding essential meetings regarding the closure of the Batley Baths leisure centre, leading to criticism about the council’s leadership being too distant, lacking accountability, and exhibiting poor communication.
According to a source, several factors contributed to the push for a no-confidence vote. Some councillors believed it was time for a fresh start, and the desire for a more accountable and transparent local Labour Party played a significant role in the decision-making process.
As a result of mounting pressure, Mr. Pandor chose to resign, signifying a significant shift in the local political landscape as the council aims to move forward with new leadership and increased openness.
A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said: “Following the resignation of the leader of the council, deputy leader Cathy Scott will take on the responsibilities of leader. This is in line with the council’s constitution.”
A new leader of the council is due to be elected at the next scheduled council meeting on 13 September 2023.