A TOWN councillor claims she was stabbed in the back in her bid to become Deputy Mayor of Mirfield.
Mirfield Town Council agreed last month to make Clr Vivien Lees-Hamilton deputy mayor at the annual meeting.
But when it came to the vote at this week’s meeting another councillor was selected – on his own casting vote.
Clr Lees-Hamilton, also a Kirklees councillor, could not attend Tuesday’s town council because of a Kirklees Conservative meeting in Huddersfield.
In her absence the town council elected Clr Richard Hartley.
The Examiner understands the vote was tied at 4 – 4 and Clr Hartley, who had not voted at that stage, was told he could take part. He voted for himself and became deputy mayor for the year.
Clr Lees-Hamilton described this week’s meeting as like “the night of the long knives” and said: “I’ve been stabbed in the back.”
On April 10, the town council chose its mayoral team with Clr David Pinder as mayor and Clr Lees-Hamilton as deputy.
Clr Lees-Hamilton was the only candidate for deputy and was selected by a unanimous vote of all 13 councillors present, including Clr Hartley.
The decision couldn’t be made official until a vote at the annual meeting this week when Clr Pinder was elected as planned.
Clr Lees-Hamilton said it was “despicable” of Clr Hartley not to tell her he intended to challenge her and “vote himself in once my back was turned”.
Clr Hartley, chairman of the Mirfield Conservative branch and a committee member of Mirfield Show, became a town councillor last year.
Clr Lees-Hamilton said she had been proud to represent her hometown after receiving the “overwhelming support” of the town council.
She added: “I expect such manoeuvring from other political groups. It goes with the job. I do not expect it from members of my own party. It does not benefit the town or the residents of Mirfield.”
Clr Pinder confirmed that the vote was locked at 4 – 4 and Clr Hartley had not put his hand up.
When told he could vote, he voted for himself.
Clr Pinder said the row was an embarrassment to the town council.
“This is exactly what makes people contemptuous of politics and politicians. It’s a very sad day,” he said.
Outgoing mayor, Clr Pat Sutcliffe, said last month’s meeting should not have gone ahead as she was away and she did not know that Clr Lees-Hamilton had sought election.
She added: “At the AGM there were no long knives drawn but a fair vote taken.”
She said it was “incredibly immature” to suggest Clr Hartley had been elected on his own casting vote.
Clr Hartley said he had previously been sounded out about being deputy mayor and was surprised not to have been proposed at last month’s meeting.
He admitted it felt “weird” to vote for himself but he had no animosity towards Clr Lees-Hamilton.
“I do not play politics,” he said. “I just want to deliver real change for Mirfield.”