Labour have won an overall majority in Kirklees after a topsy-turvy local elections that nobody could realistically predict.
National issues undoubtedly helped capsize Conservative hopes in the borough with the party gaining one Kirklees ward from Labour but losing two others. Meanwhile Labour have now got 36 seats in the council chamber giving the party a mandate to continue a programme of investment and regeneration.
An ebullient Shabir Pandor, the council leader, professed himself “absolutely delighted” with the group’s result, which included the return of one veteran to the fold as well as the successful defence of three other Cabinet members whose seats were thought to be at risk.
READ MORE:All the Kirklees council election results
The Liberal Democrats also lost a seat to Labour and the Home Valley Independents lost a seat to the Conservatives. The Greens held the one seat they were defending.
That puts the make-up of Kirklees Council at:
- Labour – 36 (+3)
- Conservatives – 18 (-1)
- Liberal Democrats – 8 (-1)
- Greens – 3 (no change)
- Holme Valley Independents – 2 (-1)
- Other Independents – 2
It was a jubilant Labour group that gathered outside Cathedral House in Huddersfield following the conclusion of the count. Summing up the mood Clr Pandor said: “We have a clear plan in Kirklees, and that is a plan of recovery. At the same time I believe that this is an indication that the country wants change and we need to start from a grassroots level.”
Referring to the intense election campaign, which saw Labour drafting in high-profile figures such as deputy party leader Angela Rayner and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, Clr Pandor said the doorstep response had been “brilliant”.
He added: “I didn’t want to count my chickens but I was quietly confident that we would get a good showing. I am delighted with the three gains we have made – in Colne Valley, Golcar and Holme Valley South – but the icing on the cake is the return of Graham Turner.”
Did you vote and are you happy with the result? Have your say in the comments here
Clr Turner lost his Denby Dale seat to the Conservatives in 2021 but stood against the Lib Dems’ Robert Iredale in Golcar, winning by just 49 votes. A former Cabinet member, he may well return to that decision-making body.
The Conservatives’ Clr John Taylor said he was disappointed personally “and for the people of Kirklees” that his party had failed to make enough progress to remove what he described as the “failing” Labour administration.
He added: “What the people of Kirklees have got is no change. That means no improvement in services and a continual decline in Kirklees whilst other towns and cities thrive.
“Now that the election is over Labour will have to come clean about their plans for Huddersfield and Dewsbury, which face significant financial pressures. Yet Labour are in denial about them.”
There were only 72 votes between veteran independent Terry Lyons and the Tory winner Tony McGrath in Holme Valley North. Clr Charles Greaves, lead member for the Holme Valley Independents, said he was “gutted” to lose his colleague and that the close result was “a real shock”.