Kirklees Labour leader Clr Shabir Pandor has been criticised over his handling of the Ratesgate fiasco.

Liberal Democrat group leader, Clr Nicola Turner, has launched an attack at Clr Pandor’s credibility as his fight to take control of the council continues.

On the eve of a crunch Labour group meeting, Clr Turner questioned the Labour leader’s reaction to the news four of his councillors had been summonsed to court for non-payment of council tax.

The scandal has led to the Labour party suspending two of the culprits, former deputy leader, Clr Jean Calvert and Clr Amanda Pinnock.

Clr Turner has claimed Clr Pandor was set to give the Ashbrow duo key jobs in his top team if he had been made leader, despite knowing they were implicated in the Ratesgate debacle.

She said: “Clr Shabir Pandor had been informed who in his party had received council tax summonses, as had the other party leaders.

“Only his councillors, though, waited to be exposed by The Examiner when they revealed the results of their freedom of information request.

“Up until that point, however, Clr Pandor was still considering some of these members as serious candidates for some of the council’s top positions.

The Kirklees councillors who failed to pay their council tax, clockwise from right: Amanda Pinnock, Amanda Stubley, Mohammed Sarwar, Jean Calvert and Donna Bellamy
The Kirklees councillors who failed to pay their council tax, clockwise from right: Amanda Pinnock, Amanda Stubley, Mohammed Sarwar, Jean Calvert and Donna Bellamy

“We are shocked that someone who has put himself forward as competent to lead our council has shown such an appalling lack of judgement. Is this the kind of approach to governance we should expect if Clr Pandor is successful in his bid to become Leader?”

Clr Pandor responded: “It is important that council tax is paid on time, even more so by elected councillors who should be setting an example.

“Formal action has been taken by the Labour Group and as a result of further events the Labour Party have taken action through suspension and are carrying out an investigation.

“Lessons need to be learnt from all this and I plan to ask the council to develop and adopt very clear protocols and codes of conduct around council tax that all political parties can sign up to and implement in a fair and transparent manner.”

The public row comes as Labour officials attempt to smooth a rift in the Kirklees party caused by the coup that unseated former leader Clr David Sheard.

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A Kirklees group meeting is taking place tonight where it is expected a final deal will be made over who will run for leadership of Kirklees Council on June 29.

The council was left in limbo when Clr Pandor failed to win over opposition councillors at the annual leadership vote in late May.

READ MORE: Suspended Kirklees councillors can't be kicked off council...

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Four members of his own party stayed away, costing him the votes he needed to be elected as Kirklees Council leader.

The council is currently being run by chief executive, Adrian Lythgo. It is only the third time in its history that an unelected officer has had to step in.

In the three weeks since the dramatic council meeting, it had widely been expected that Clr Pandor would re-establish party unity for a second go at the leadership.

But Examiner sources have recently suggested a new deal has been done that could see new faces emerge and old ones return to the table.