Kirklees Council’s acting leader Cathy Scott has shaken up her top team – three weeks before the council officially elects its new leader.

The Dewsbury East Labour councillor was previously deputy leader and stepped up after the resignation of Clr Shabir Pandor at the end of July.

Clr Pandor quit immediately after reports that members of the Labour Group had moved against him and were prepared to call a vote of ‘no confidence’ in his leadership.

The election of a new leader is due at a full council meeting on September 13 and Labour has an overall majority suggesting that the election of Clr Scott is a formality.

The council is facing a financial crisis with cuts and savings of £47 million needed to stave off potential bankruptcy. Up to 250 job losses are expected in the coming months.

Clr Scott said there was “no time to waste” as she unveiled her new nine-strong Cabinet. Out go Naheed Mather (culture and greener Kirklees); Carole Pattison (learning, aspiration and communities), Musarrat Khan (health and social care) and Eric Firth, whose transport and town centres portfolio is dropped.

Leaving the Cabinet: Mussarat Khan (top left), Eric Firth, Carole Pattison (top right) and Naheed Mather

Clr Mather is replaced by Yusra Hussain and Elizabeth Reynolds takes on learning and aspiration while a new separate portfolio – communities – is taken by Mussarat Pervaiz. Clr Jackie Ramsey takes responsibility for health and social care.

The three key roles on the Cabinet remain in experienced hands. Clr Paul Davies keeps the corporate portfolio and becomes deputy leader while regeneration chief Clr Graham Turner also takes on responsibility for finance.

Clr Viv Kendrick continues to head up children’s services, a previously failing department which has been turned around in recent years.

Clr Masood Ahmed, who joined the Cabinet in May after a year as Mayor of Kirklees, takes over the housing portfolio from Clr Scott and his environment post goes to a new Cabinet face, Clr Gwen Lowe.

Announcing her new-look Cabinet, Clr Scott said: “There’s no time to waste. I’m cracking on with the job and getting to grips with the things that really matter to people across Kirklees.

“My Cabinet has the right blend of experience and fresh ideas to overcome the challenges we face and improve lives for people across Kirklees.

“This is a highly motivated team with the interests of residents at their heart. They are every bit as keen as I am to get to work and start delivering for Kirklees.”

Pledging a “fresh start” for Kirklees, Clr Scott has also outlined her vision for the council and the key priorities that will guide her leadership:   

  • Setting a fair and balanced budget and pressuring the Government for a fairer funding deal for Kirklees during the cost-of-living crisis;
  • Regenerating towns and villages;
  • Being ambitious for young people and improving Children’s Services;
  • Delivering a greener Kirklees and leading on the climate emergency.

The Cabinet met for the first time on Monday to discuss their plans, with further announcements expected in the coming days.

Talking about her approach to leading the council, Clr Scott said: “Anyone who knows me, knows I’m my own person. I will bring my own style and personality to the job. That means being open with people and telling it like it is. But it also means listening and understanding people’s hopes, ideas and frustrations.  

“Above all, I’m passionate about our communities and doing my best for them. I’m driven by my values of fairness and pride in our people and our places. That’s what gets me up in the morning and motivates me in the good times and the bad.  

“I’m under no illusions. This is a tough job but I’m a grafter and it’s a huge privilege to work hard on behalf of Kirklees people. With a refreshed and motivated team around me, I’m looking forward to taking on this challenge.”

Here’s the new Cabinet line-up in full with the ward each councillor represents in brackets:

Cathy Scott – Acting Leader – (Dewsbury East)

Paul Davies –  Deputy Leader and Corporate – (Holme Valley South)

Elizabeth Reynolds – Learning and Aspiration – (Golcar)

Graham Turner – Finance and Regeneration – (Golcar)

Viv Kendrick – Children’s Services – (Heckmondwike)

Masood Ahmed – Housing – (Dewsbury South)

Gwen Lowe – Environment – (Batley West)

Jackie Ramsey – Health & Social Care – (Dewsbury South)

Mussarat Pervaiz – Communities – (Dewsbury West)

Yusra Hussain – Culture & Greener Kirklees – (Batley West)