MEHBOOB Khan has been re-elected as leader of Kirklees Council.
The Greenhead Labour man will continue at the helm after the opposition Conservatives abstained at yesterday’s annual meeting at Huddersfield Town Hall.
Clr Khan won the backing of all 29 Labour councillors present, along with former Conservative Clr Tony Brice of Lindley.
Seventeen Lib Dems, Greens and Valley Independents voted against the Labour man continuing in the position he has held since 2009.
All 18 Conservatives abstained, allowing the minority Labour group to remain in control of Kirklees.
Speaking before the vote, Clr Khan outlined his aims for the future.
“Our main priority will be the economy – if the economy is right we will make sure that public services and social cohesion is right,” he said.
“We have to have the right short-term and long-term policies to help the 4,000 young people in Kirklees who are unemployed.
“We need to help local businesses when they want to relocate.”
Clr Khan added that his party, which won five extra seats at this year’s election, deserved to continue leading the council.
“Local people gave the Labour Party an increased number of councillors showing we’re in tune with residents,” he said.
Clr Robert Light, who leads the 18-strong Conservatives, agreed that Labour had the right to carry on in charge.
“We recognise that Labour have the most seats and will expect to form the administration,” said the Birstall and Birkenshaw man.
“The Conservatives will be a constructive opposition. Where we agree with the administration, we’ll support them. Where we don’t, we will oppose them.”
Clr Light and the other opposition leaders raised the issue of the council’s controversial libraries plan during yesterday’s leadership debate (see Page 2 of today’s Examiner).
Clr Kath Pinnock added that her Lib Dem party was also concerned about the council’s plan to cut spending on Sure Starts.
“Labour has a masterplan for children’s centres but it is also a secret plan,” said the Cleckheaton woman.
“Labour has assumed they will glide back into office but, as far as we’re concerned, that should not happen.”
The newly-formed Greens and Valley Independents group also voted against Clr Khan.
Co-leader Clr Andrew Cooper criticised the Labour man’s “style and approach” to leadership.
The Newsome man said: “We were told that if we didn’t support Labour, my colleague Julie Stewart-Turner would lose her place on the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.”
After he was re-elected leader, Clr Khan announced that the nine-strong Cabinet would stay the same.