Sunday, 3 June 2012

Examiner Letters on Kirklees Leadership

Mr R J Bray of Shelley is a regular contributor to the Huddersfield Examiner Letters column and invariably supportive of the Conservatives. Obviously the Tories abstaining at the Annual Council meeting on the Leadership and allowing Labour to run the Council presented him with a bit of a dilemma. Here's how he dealt with/rationalised it and my response below that.

“Local people gave the Labour Party an increased number of councillors showing we’re in tune with residents,” were the resounding words of Clr Mehboob Khan after his re-election as leader of our council.
I and others were unhappy that the Conservative councillors decided to abstain from the vote.
This is to a degree understandable when all they would face would be derision at failing to oust Clr Khan from his secure seat.
If the Conservatives had voted against Clr Khan it would have made no difference whatsoever. He is leader by the constitution for four years even though he puts himself up for re-election each year it’s a case of the winner of this year’s one horse race is. The Labour Group has 32 members and the Conservatives have but 18.
If, however, Conservative Clr Robert Light had put up for council leader not one of the other groups would have supported him.
The Greens would not have voted for an alternative. It was the votes of the four greens three years ago which lost the Conservatives control of the council. The Lib Dems would not support the Conservatives nor would the Independents.
The four independents – three of whom are now in with the Green group – voted against and the other independent voted for Clr Khan.
This year was the first time the Greens voted against Clr Khan and the main reason being they did not get the chair of Scrutiny Panel or any chairs of major committees which they wanted.
They therefore voted as a matter of pique rather than policy.
Labour is the largest party and so by the constitution has to form the administration. All other minor groups would not support the Conservatives running the council.
Perhaps Clr Andrew Cooper and Clr Kath Pinnock would care to explain why they would not support the Conservatives in running the administration as the major opposition party thus trying to break the cycle of negativity from the clueless Labour party.

R J Bray

 And my response

R J Bray says in his letter (Examiner, May 28) “Perhaps Clr Andrew Cooper and Clr Kath Pinnock would care to explain why they would not support the Conservatives in running the administration’’.
The fact of the matter is that they never sought support and never made a ‘pitch’ to other groups.
I tried to get the non Labour groups round the table on a number of occasions to discuss how to address the leadership of the council and to put pressure on the Labour Party on issues of mutual concern, such as the libraries, but to no avail.
There simply wasn’t the will for joint discussions from the Conservatives.
Personally I have no particular enthusiasm for either Labour or the Conservatives running the council but my prime concern, in a hung council, would be about the policies they were seeking to pursue and their willingness to involve other groups in decision making.
The Greens have supported (and opposed) all the other political groups on the council at different times on different issues on the basis of the policies and their impact on local people.
Another statement by Mr Bray in his letter was “the Greens voted against Clr Khan and the main reason being they did not get the chair of the Scrutiny Panel or any of the chairs of major committees that they wanted”.
This maybe what he believes but it simply isn’t true.
Clr Khan threatened to remove the Green Party from chairing the Resources Scrutiny Panel if we didn’t support him as Leader before we made our decision.
It would be true however to say that these threats did inform our view of his character as a potential leader of the council.
In the end we didn’t support him because we couldn’t get a firm commitment on policy issues, including the libraries.
As a consequence of our decision at the annual council meeting Labour voted in favour of the Conservatives taking the Chair of the Resources Scrutiny Panel from the Green Party and Valley Independent Group as punishment to us and as a reward to the Conservatives, for abstaining on the vote on the leadership, thus allowing Mehboob Khan to become Leader of the Council.

Councillor Andrew Cooper
Co-Leader of the Green Party and Valley Independent Group

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