Opposition parties unite to oust minority Labour administration

Ousted: Labour's Coun Tim Swift
Ousted: Labour's Coun Tim Swift

An abrupt all-change at Calderdale Council resulted in Labour being ousted as the controlling party at full council on the evening of July 30.

A motion of no confidence in the minority Labour administration was issued by Conservative leader Coun Stephen Baines and supported by the Liberal Democrats and Independent Coun Colin Raistrick.

It meant the removal as leader of Labour’s Coun Tim Swift and a new-look Cabinet being formed, and among Labour councillors losing their portfolio were Todmorden ward Coun Steve Sweeney, who had the communities portfolio.

The Conservative and Liberal Democrats, whose leader is Calder ward Coun Janet Battye, backed by the Independent councillor, claim matters came to a head over the outcomes of a scrutiny meeting discussing evening parking charges in Halifax and controversial proposals for Hipperholme crossroads.

Since the moves at Halifax Town Hall on July 30, acrimony has been widespread over why the other parties united in the move - Calderdale is a hung council with no single party able to exercise overall control - or the reasons they did so.

A statement issued by the Conservative group and other opposition parties said: “It has become clear that the Labour Group has no intention of honouring the assurances it gave in May 2014 that it would consult and work with the other parties represented on Calderdale Council.

“This has come to a head over the past week, when there have been two instances where the Labour Cabinet have made clear their intention to push ahead with their own agenda. They are ignoring the views of the public of Calderdale and the wishes of the council that were clearly set out at its budget-setting meeting in February.

“All the current opposition groups on the council believe that the attitude and actions of the Labour Cabinet are totally unacceptable, and that the public of Calderdale deserve better. We therefore had no option but to call for a vote of no confidence in the current administration.

“After serious consideration, we have resolved to work collectively over the next nine months to ensure that the council better serves the local community.”

Labour has angrily refuted the allegation, with Coun Swift, speaking after the meeting, calling it a “cynical coup”.

He said: “This cynical coup proves once and for all that the Lib Dems and the Tories are two sides of the same coin. In Westminster for four years they have been in cahoots and now they are going to do the same here in Calderdale. It shows that if you vote Lib Dem you get a Tory.

“In the ultimate show of hypocrisy, the two issues which Councillors Battye and Baines pretended this was all about - car parking charges in the town centre and Hipperholme crossroads - were both subsequently swiped from the agenda and so were not even discussed at all.”