Mehboob Khan is stepping down as Kirklees Council leader for a new job in London.

The Labour councillor will leave his leader post at the end of February – but he will continue as a Greenhead ward councillor for the foreseeable future as talks with his local branch continue.

Clr Khan, a councillor of 17 years, said: “It has been a massive and emotional decision to make, but I feel the time is now right to move on.

“I have agonised over the decision for the last three weeks.

It has been a huge privilege to be a Kirklees councillor and its leader.”

The 44-year-old will be a political advisor at the Local Government Association with a specific role working with the London boroughs, the Mayor of London’s office and Westminster.

He added: “I have been a councillor for 17 years. I changed tack from running successful businesses to become a local councillor and becoming a full-time politician.

“Ten years after being Labour leader and five years as council leader, I feel it is time to change tack again and experience other career opportunities.

“I attend meetings with people who have been council leaders for 15-20 years and their advice to me is to grasp the opportunities.

“Over the next two years there are going to be huge challenges and it is right that I pass the mantle on now rather than in the middle of it all.

“It would not be right to be leader forever when it is a role which demands such a huge amount.

“My new post in London will be an exciting challenge, working with council leaders, the Mayor of London and Westminster.

“But I have no doubt that my successor, once that person is in place, will have a strong platform to build from and lead Kirklees through its most difficult financial challenges in its history.”

The Labour Party will now have to select a new leader and it will be for Full Council to vote if the Labour leader should become Council Leader.

He vowed to continue constituency work on weekends and by phone and internet until he’d held talks with the Greenhead branch.

Colleagues informed yesterday, spoke of their “shock” but he said: “It has been quite touching how many nice comments I’ve had.

“But no individual is bigger than the organisation.”


Clr Khan joined the Labour Party aged 18 and was first British-born Asian to be elected to serve as a Kirklees councillor in 1996, aged 27.

He was elected to the Birkby ward (later redefined as the Greenhead ward) and says he was inspired by the late Clr Annie Smith, Clr Ken Smith and former councillor Dave Harris.

He said of his first election: “I felt like my life changed overnight, I was suddenly in the public eye and had people approaching me about every subject.”

He became Labour leader in 2003 and then council leader in early 2009, at a time Labour was in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. During his time on the council all three main parties have run the council.

Last elected in 2012, he returned with 3,838 votes – more than double his three rival candidates together.

But events have challenged him: “The Birkby murders – the most horrific and heinous murder in the town post-war – was the most difficult situation I’ve faced.

“The impact of the Iraq war was also hard, Labour were losing seats everywhere, but not in Kirklees.”

He gave his highlights as individual constituency work, forging links with Huddersfield University, the police and community and improving Greenhead Park.

As well as Kirklees leader, Clr Khan is on the Leeds City Region board, is chair of the West Yorkshire Fire Authority and a vice-chairman at the Local Government Association. He also sat on the local health board.


Clr Khan continues as leader until the end of February.

Between now and then the Labour Party will select its new leader.

The Cabinet is currently completed by Clrs Jean Calvert (Health, Well Being and Communities), Cath Harris (Children’s Services), Peter McBride (Place), Peter O’Neill (Children’s Services), Shabir Pandor (Resources), Cathy Scott (Place Investment and Housing), David Sheard (Deputy Leader and Resources) and Molly Walton (Health, Well-Being and Communities).