THE top job at Kirklees Council is up for grabs after the leader announced he will resign next week.
Clr Mehboob Khan was elected to a four-year term 12 months ago.
But the Labour man will voluntarily give up his position on Wednesday – and ask his 68 fellow councillors to re-elect him for another year.
He said: “Under the council’s constitution I could have been leader for another three years but I’m putting myself forward for re-election and I hope to win.”
Last year the Government forced Kirklees to change the way it elects its leader, switching from an annual ballot to a vote once every four years.
Clr Khan was elected to a four-year term last May – and immediately promised to resign and stand for re-election 12 months later.
The Greenhead man will seek another term at Wednesday’s annual council meeting.
His Labour party strengthened its position as the largest party at this month’s elections, rising from 24 seats to 27.
Clr Khan said: “At this stage I have no guarantee of support from any of the other political groups on the council but I will make my case next week.” He listed the council’s achievements in the last year as:
“Significant improvement” in GCSE results at Kirklees schools
Making “some very difficult decisions” about spending cuts
Helping disabled people live more active lives
Supporting local businesses
Helping people cope with the effects of the recession by providing training.
But Clr Robert Light, who leads the opposition Conservatives, is not impressed with Clr Khan’s record.
“I’m very unhappy with some of the things that Labour has been doing,” he said.
“I’m concerned with the way the council has handled the schools issue and the Local Development Framework. It has completely ignored the views of the people and that’s not the kind of council we want to see.”
Clr Light, who led the council from 2006 to 2009, is yet to decide if he will put his name forward next week.
“We’re still considering our options as a Conservative group,” said the Birstall and Birkenshaw man.
The Tories emerged from this month’s election as the second biggest party with 22 councillors.
But Clr Light believes the Lib Dems – who fell from 20 seats to 14 – will have the final say on who leads Kirklees.
He said: “As things stand we’re second and Labour is the biggest party. But the question is not whether Labour has a right to lead – it’s whether the Lib Dems want them to continue.”
Lib Dem party leader Clr Kath Pinnock said her group is undecided.
The Cleckheaton woman said yesterday: “I’m going to see what Clr Khan proposes to be the programme for next year.
“I have suggested to him that responsibility for things like street cleaning, bin emptying and park maintenance should be devolved to the town and valley committees.
“This would be an extension of local democracy and I think he’s been quite positive about that.”
Clr Pinnock added that Clr Khan’s last year in office had been: “a curate’s egg – OK in parts but not very good in others.”
Clr Andrew Cooper, who leads the four-strong Green group on Kirklees, said his party wanted to stop cuts to adult social care and protect green fields from development.
The Newsome man said: “The Green Party has been fairly even-handed in its favours – we’ve done deals with all the three bigger parties.
“We’re looking for a clear and unequivocal condemnation of the cuts and I think that might prove difficult for Robert Light.”
The 69 members of Kirklees Council will meet at Huddersfield Town Hall on Wednesday from 1pm to elect a new leader.
A new mayor and deputy mayor will also be elected.