The race is on to replace Barry Sheerman as the Labour candidate for Huddersfield.

Mr Sheerman, 81, will step down at the next General Election after 40 years as the town’s MP.

And amid speculation of a snap General Election after a confidence vote in Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Huddersfield Labour Party has started the process of finding Mr Sheerman’s successor.

It is understood applications had to be submitted by last weekend and the party will now draw up a ‘long list’ of possibly eight candidates this week.

That ‘long list’ will then be whittled down into a ‘shortlist’ of around four candidates with a final choice due to be announced in July.

Among the candidates who have confirmed they have thrown their hat into the ring are several high profile and experienced politicians, led by Kirklees Council leader Shabir Pandor.

Cabinet member for environment, Clr Naheed Mather, is also standing. It is also believed another Cabinet member Clr Musarrat Khan (health and social care) is also seeking the nomination.

Newly-elected Kirklees councillor Tyler Hawkins has also confirmed he is standing. Clr Hawkins represents the same Dalton ward as councillors Mather and Khan.

Dalton ward councillors and rival candidates (from the left): Naheed Mather, Musarrat Khan and Tyler Hawkins

Also standing is former Ashbrow councillor Harpreet Uppal, who stood down from Kirklees in May, and lawyer and party activist Hugh Goulbourne, who previously made the shortlist for Mayor of West Yorkshire.

Some candidates have their own websites or social media pages already while others have been a little more cautious about confirming their intentions too soon.

Clr Pandor makes no secret of his ambition and the home page of his personal website is emblazoned with the slogan: “Huddersfield’s next Labour MP.”

Hugh Goulbourne also has his own website while Harpreet Uppal has a modest Facebook page with the description #Harpreet4Huddersfield.

Clr Shabir Pandor

Clr Pandor says he’s been active in the Labour Party since 1994 and he’s held many senior roles.

The married father-of-three said in a statement: “I have extensive experience in elected politics already. I have proven that I am credible, trusted and respected both in Huddersfield and across the country.

“I currently serve as the deputy chair of the Local Government Association, I am a member of the West Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (WYMCA), a member of the Leeds City Region LEP, chair the WYMCA Business Economy and Innovation Committee and I am a member of the Yorkshire Leaders Board. I am also a member of the Congress for the Council of Europe where I sit on the Observations and Monitoring Committee.

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“I’ve made it my business to promote Huddersfield at home, in Westminster and around the world whilst I have held the leadership of our council.

“It is my privilege to serve as leader of Kirklees Council and, on my watch, we are investing £250 million into regenerating Huddersfield – the biggest investment since 1974, supported the town to combat Covid and helped to create new jobs for local people.

“Now I believe it is the right time to take the next step and enter Parliament as the Labour MP for Huddersfield.”

Harpreet Uppal

Harpreet Uppal, who works for Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams, said: “I am born and raised here and I am really proud to call Huddersfield my home.

“Raised by my mum, a care worker, and my dad, a weaver, I grew up learning the importance of community, of looking after each other and always fighting for what you believe in. I became politically active because of my teacher, Mrs Perry at Fartown High School.

“I want to be the MP for the people I grew up with and the communities I grew up in. I will be the strong voice in Parliament that Huddersfield needs.

“My experience as a councillor, NHS England worker and working with Debbie Abrahams MP and Andy Burnham means I can deliver effectively.

“Consecutive Conservative governments have left our country divided; Covid cruelly exposed our structural inequalities; and the cost-of-living crisis is an ongoing threat.

“Last year our local food bank, The Welcome Centre, provided over 16,000 crisis packs to residents. We deserve so much more. I am the experienced campaigner who will challenge the status quo.”

Hugh Goulbourne

Mr Goulbourne, who lives in Marsh and works at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre in Huddersfield, also issued a statement.

He said: “Right now Huddersfield needs a voice in Parliament who will represent the thousands of households that are disproportionately struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

“After many years of under-investment in our town centre and transport, we need someone who will march into Westminster and demand we get our fair share.

“Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are more interested in slogans and parties than they are in getting things done for us here in Huddersfield. This selection matters.

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“I have a track record of delivering for community groups, businesses and environmental projects across Huddersfield and I will stand up to people who feel entitled to power.

“Most importantly, I’m collaborative and I am energised by the many local people who are with me on this journey. I’m really grateful for their support and look forward to speaking to more members in the coming weeks.”

Clr Tyler Hawkins

Huddersfield born and bred Clr Hawkins, who lives in Dalton, said: “I know this town and I know the issues it is facing – our town centre is struggling, thousands of us are using food banks, and our schools and hospitals are under threat.

“Huddersfield deserves a representative who will fight for us at home and in Westminster. I have only ever stood for election in Huddersfield and I will not stand anywhere else. This is my home.

“Since joining the Labour Party aged 14, I have campaigned tirelessly for the Labour Party across Huddersfield and Yorkshire.

“I have knocked on tens of thousands of doors, spoken to thousands of people and over the last two years have co-ordinated our winning campaign across the borough as Huddersfield party chair and district party secretary.

“I know what it takes to win and beat the Tories. I won Dalton through hard graft and by listening to local people – a ward we almost lost last year to the Tories now has a comfortable majority. The Conservatives are happy to see our town centre decay – I want to be part of a Labour government that will invest in our town centres.”