Calderdale Council going through changes at top

New mayor of Calderdale, Ann Martin, at mayor making ceremony, Halifax Town Hall.
New mayor of Calderdale, Ann Martin, at mayor making ceremony, Halifax Town Hall.

It’s all change on Calderdale Council as a new Mayor and deputy are elected, and the cabinet is given a controversial shake up.

Brighouse ward councillor Ann Martin will be the district’s civic head for 2013/2014, with Illingworth and Mixenden ward councillor Lisa Lambert her deputy.

Coun Martin was nominated by Labour Leader Coun Tim Swift and Luddenden Foot ward councillor Simon Young endorsed his decision when he said: “She does not suffer fools gladly and will make fools gladly suffer.”

Meanwhile, the first tensions since the council’s coalition split surfaced at the annual meeting as the Liberal Democrats questioned Labour’s mandate to control the council.

Following the breakdown of Calderdale Council’s Lab/Lib coalition Coun Tim Swift was voted in as leader of the council with Illingworth and Mixenden ward councillor Barry Collins as deputy leader.

The cabinet seats will be shared between Labour councillors as the party garnered the most seats, 21, at the last elections.

This did not give them a full majority of the 51 council seats and Calderdale Liberal Democrat group leader and Calder ward councillor Janet Battye - formerly deputy council leader under the coalition agreement - stood up before the vote to voice her anger at the decision.

“It may be right that the leader comes from the largest group but it’s not right they take all the cabinet seats when they don’t have an overall majority,” she said.

“Calderdale Council is a democratically elected body and the people of Calderdale have chosen not to give overall control of the council to any single party. Over the past three years, voters have given Labour only 32 per cent of the vote, though that has given them 41 per cent of the seats. This is clearly not a mandate for them to run the council.”

Under the new system Coun Collins retains his position as chair of the Economy and Environment committee and there is more representation on the cabinet from the upper Calder Valley after Todmorden ward and Hebden Royd town councillor Steve Sweeney was named chair of Communities.

The rest of the cabinet is shared out between Town ward councillor Bob Metcalfe - Adults, Health and Social Care; Town ward councillor Megan Swift - Children and Young People’s Services and Ovenden ward councillor Bryan Smith - Business Improvement and Resources.

Coun Tim Swift said the new system of leadership would make for a fairer system with seats on scrutiny panels and committees divided according to the number of seats held by the respective parties.

Labour has 21 councillors equating to 28 seats on panels and committees, Conservative have 17 councillors equating to 23 seats, Liberal Democrats have 11 councillors giving them 15 seats and the two Independent councillors will share three seats.