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Kirklees Council will have a new leader after Cathy Scott is ousted by the Labor group

Kirklees Council is set to have a new leader after the crisis-hit Labor group voted in Cathy Scott after her turbulent nine months in the role.

Former Cabinet member Clr Carole Pattison challenged Clr Scott for the leadership at the Labor group AGM on Monday night and came out on top in a direct vote.

Clr Pattison, who represents Greenhead ward in Huddersfield and first became a Kirklees councilor in 2010, was a Cabinet member for learning, aspiration and communities under former council leader Shabir Pandor.

Although Labor remains the largest party, Clr Pattison does not automatically become council leader and a vote is expected to take place at the council’s annual meeting on Wednesday 22 May.

Clr Scott took over the leadership of the council in August 2023 and faced a £47m budget black hole and a battle to save the council from bankruptcy.

The conflict in Gaza and the early failure of the National Party to call for a ceasefire have led to increased tensions within the Labor group.

Cllr Carole Pattison

Since January, five Labor councilors have left the party, mainly in protest at National leader Sir Keir Starmer’s stance on Gaza.

There were also concerns raised about Mr Scott’s leadership style, with one of the councilors who resigned, Jo Lawson, describing the Labor caucus as a “toxic quagmire”. There were claims that the debate had been silenced and backroom councilors felt they had no voice.

Clr Lawson formed a new group on the council, the Kirklees Community Independents Group, which helped cause labor damage at the polls.

Labor lost four seats in the local elections – and its overall majority – effectively sealing Cllr Scott’s fate.

At the Labor group AGM, cabinet member Clr Graham Turner was expected to be a leadership candidate, but his name did not go forward.

He stood for deputy leader instead, but the vote was won by Holme Valley South councilor Moses Crook, the current Cabinet member for housing and highways.

The role of deputy leader has become vacant as Clr Paul Davies has stood down to focus on his campaign to become Labor MP for Colne Valley at the next general election.

Council leader Cathy Scott prepares to face leadership challenges after by-election blow

Party members say divisions within the Labor caucus will take time to heal and there is unlikely to be any way back for the five councilors who have left the party.

The latest to resign at the weekend was Clr Mus Khan, who just two years ago was on the shortlist of four to replace Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.

Clr Khan has been strongly critical of Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer and his stance on Gaza and questioned whether he has the “moral and ethical standards expected of a potential Prime Minister”.

All the results of the 2024 Kirklees Council election as Labor loses its overall majority