Party is left reeling after councillor switches sides

Mytholmroyd Gala'mayor of Hebden Royd coun Nader Fekri opens the gala
Mytholmroyd Gala'mayor of Hebden Royd coun Nader Fekri opens the gala

A DEFIANT former Liberal Democrat councillor has shunned calls to resign as critics question his ability to represent his electorate.

Calderdale and Hebden Royd Town Councillor Nader Fekri has been told to relinquish his council seats and join his wife and two sons in Turkey by members of the party he quit on Monday.

Deputy Calderdale Leader and Lib Dem Group Leader Councillor Janet Battye has questioned Coun Fekri’s ability to adequately represent the Calder Ward at council while toing and froing between Hebden Bridge and Turkey.

Coun Battye, who represents the Calder Ward along with Coun Fekri, said: “Earlier in the year Coun Fekri relocated to Turkey after his wife started a job a new job in Istanbul.

“We believed it was clearly impossible for him to remain as a councillor while he was spending a large amount of time living over 2,000 miles away. We therefore told him we expected him to resign.

“It is clear that Coun Fekri cares more about his councillor allowance rather than representing the people of Calder Ward. This is something we could not allow to continue. We believe the pressure we put on Coun Fekri to resign is the real reason he has left the Liberal Democrats rather than any spurious national policy issues.”

But, Coun Fekri said he has no intention of either resigning or calling a bye-election as “he is still the same person” despite switching allegiances.

Coun Fekri said: “Hebden Bridge is my home and I intend to remain here and fulfil my duties as a Calderdale and Hebden Royd Town councillor.

“I have come to the conclusion that a by-election will be both costly and disruptive, and that ultimately, I am the same person with the same beliefs and commitments as I had when last re-elected in 2010.”

Earlier in the year Coun Fekri announced that he would be moving to Turkey after his wife, Helen, was appointed as director of education for the British Council. She and their two children have already taken up residence.

The former Calderdale Mayor’s four year term of office is not due to come to an end until May 2014.