New Kirklees Lib Dem leader Nicola Turner on her "tough act to follow" after Kath Pinnock steps down

Clr Kath Pinnock steps aside as leader to allow others the "privileged opportunity" to lead Kirklees Lib Dems

 

Clr Kath Pinnock is stepping down as Kirklees Liberal Democrat leader after 23 years in the role.

The Cleckheaton councillor announced her intention at the group’s AGM on Wednesday.

Colne Valley’s Clr Nicola Turner was elected leader in a free vote and Golcar’s Clr Andrew Marchington has become deputy leader.

Clr Pinnock said: “After 23 years, I have decided that it is time to hand over the reins of leadership.

“There is a time when it’s right to move on and let someone else have the opportunity I had all those years ago.

“One of the roles of being a leader is to help find successors. There is a lot of talent in the group and I am pleased for Nicola and Andrew that they are getting this chance.”

Clr Pinnock said being Kirklees Lib Dem leader was a “real privilege” and thanked her party colleagues for their support.

She added: “This is very much a planned transition. I was absolutely determined to step aside only when the local party and council group were in good health. Our convincing defence of all five seats in the local elections last week clearly signals that we have turned the corner after a few hard years.

“I hope people see that as leader I’ve led a party that puts people first and I have no doubt that Nicola and Andrew will continue that.”

Elected in 1987, Clr Pinnock became party group leader in 1991 and the first female leader of Kirklees Council which she led between 2000 and 2006.

She said achievements included the Warm Zone scheme helping 100,000 households save on fuel bills, introducing Area Committees to devolve money and power, building two state-of-the-art special needs schools and introducing town centres festivals.

Clr Pinnock joked she’d have to “keep my mouth shut” during Full Council meetings adding: “I’m not going anywhere, I’ll still be around and if Nicola wants to bounce ideas off somebody then, of course, I’ll be there.”

Clr Turner, re-elected last week in her Colne Valley ward, said: “I am very excited about being leader but there is also some trepidation as well, Kath Pinnock will be a tough act to follow.

“In Kirklees the Lib Dems have always been a strong team. I think we work together well so I become leader knowing there’s a good team behind me.

“People may or may not see a difference in leadership, but people will still see us listening and standing up for our communities.”

There will be challenges as Kirklees Council goes through major change and Clr Turner added: “Working towards the budget next February is going to be difficult. The fact is cuts will have to be made and I want to get a fair deal for all of Kirklees.

“We’ll continue to support people getting more involved. In the Colne Valley there are many amazing volunteers. Not for one minute am I suggesting the council should rely on volunteers to run services but we need to see the potential in our communities more.”

She said development and land allocation needed clear-thinking and emphasised her willingness to work with other party leaders.

“Where there is equal thinking we’ll support them and I am prepared to work with anybody,” she said. “I’m sure at times there will be heated discussions but all we want is the best for our town.”

Deputy Clr Andrew Marchington added: “We all appreciate what Kath has done for the group over the years.

“Going forward we need to keep listening to people and representing their needs and making sure there is a liberal emphasis on what Kirklees does.”

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