THE outgoing Mayor of Kirklees spoke of her sadness after her partner boycotted her send-off in a dispute over a chain.
Clr Jean Calvert handed over to new mayor Clr Karam Hussain, who was brought up in Kashmir, at a ceremony at Huddersfield Town Hall yesterday.
But her partner Shane Eastwood, who has served as her consort for the past year, was not there to hand over his ceremonial chain to the new mayoress, Clr Hussain’s daughter-in-law Nasreen Akhtar.
Clr Calvert told the Examiner: “It’s traditional for the outgoing consort to place the chain around the new consort.
“But this year the Mayor’s Office asked me to place the chain on Mrs Akhtar because Clr Hussain had said that no man could touch his daughter-in-law.
“I refused because it’s a break with tradition.”
Mr Eastwood decided not to attend the event when he learnt of the request.
Clr Calvert said: “I’m upset that he’s not here, but he’s a man of principle.”
Susan Betteridge, the council’s head of legal services, placed the chain on Mrs Akhtar at yesterday’s ceremony.
Clr Calvert said a similar problem had arisen last year when she was elected mayor and Clr Hussain was elected her deputy.
She said: “Tradition would be that Shane placed the ceremonial chain on Mrs Akhtar but because she is an Asian lady there was a request that no man do it.
“Ann Firth, the wife of the then mayor Clr Donald Firth, put the chain on Mrs Akhtar instead.”
Clr Calvert said Mr Eastwood had been upset on that occasion.
She said: “He was embarrassed and humiliated.
“He told me he wouldn’t go through that again.”
But Clr Hussain denied he had asked for Mr Eastwood not to place the chain around his daughter-in-law’s neck.
He said: “I said that he could put the chain on her but he couldn’t kiss her because she wouldn’t accept that.
“On Monday I was told by council officials of the plan for the ceremony and I wasn’t aware that Clr Calvert had a problem with that. If she had any reservations, she should have expressed them.”
Clr Hussain added: “Last year my daughter-in-law was nervous about the ceremony and she said she wouldn’t kiss anyone or shake their hands. Clr Calvert was happy with the arrangement last year.”
Clr Hussain said the pair had worked well together in the past year. He said: “We had a wonderful time and we never had any problems.”
Clr Calvert also revealed yesterday that she had walked out of an event at Dewsbury Town Hall in March on the verge of tears.
The Labour councillor for Ashbrow ward said: “It was a community cohesion event with lots of sheikhs and clerics. I went in a headscarf and with the intention of respecting the culture by not shaking hands.
“The organisers just left me standing there on my own and didn’t speak to me. Then they sat me down at a table on my own and left me.
“I could feel myself getting emotional and I thought that I couldn’t sit there and cry, so I left.”
Clr Calvert added: “I was saddened that in this day and age that sort of thing still happens.”
The controversies overshadowed the election of Clr Hussain as Kirklees Mayor yesterday.
More than 100 people, including many of his family and friends, attended the ceremony.
Clr Hussain has been a Lib Dem councillor for Dewsbury West since 1998.
The married father-of-four spoke of his pride at being elected mayor.
He said: “As a little boy living in a small village in Kashmir I never dreamed that one day I would be standing here as first citizen of Kirklees.
“I was 15-years-old when I arrived in this country and I didn’t speak a word of English.
“More than most I can see the opportunities this country offers to its citizens.”
Clr Hussain’s chosen charities to benefit from the Mayor’s Appeal Fund are the Dewsbury and District Hospital Diabetes Appeal and The Laura Crane Trust.
Clr Julie Stewart-Turner, a Green representative from Newsome, was elected deputy mayor. Her husband Darrel Turner will serve as her consort.