Kirklees Council
Third of council elected three years out of four
Coat of arms of Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council.png
Kirklees Council.svg
Founded1 April 1974
Mayor of Kirklees
Nigel Patrick, Conservative
since 19 May 2021
Leader of the Council
Shabir Pandor, Labour
since 23 May 2018[2]
Deputy Leader
Cathy Scott, Labour
Leader of the Opposition
David Hall, Conservative
Chief Executive
Jacqui Gedman[1]
Seats69 councillors[3][4]
United Kingdom Kirklees District Council 2021.svg
Joint committees
West Yorkshire Combined Authority
36 / 69
18 / 69
8 / 69
3 / 69
1 / 69
4 / 69
Multiple member first-past-the-post
Last election
6 May 2021
Meeting place
Town Hall and Concert Hall - - 321863.jpg
Huddersfield Town Hall

Kirklees Council is the local authority providing most local government services for the borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire, England. It is a metropolitan district council and one of five constituent councils of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.[5]


Kirklees Council was established in 1974 by the Local Government Act 1972, with the first elections being held in advance in 1973.

The council was initially a second-tier authority, with West Yorkshire County Council providing many key services. However, the metropolitan county councils were abolished by the Local Government Act 1985, and so in 1986 Kirklees Council took over responsibility for most of these functions within the borough.

Policing, fire services and public transport continued to be run on a county-wide basis by councillors from all five West Yorkshire boroughs. In 2012 responsibility for policing was transferred to the directly-elected West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and in 2014 responsibility for public transport was transferred to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. The members of Kirklees Council elect one member of the combined authority.

Since the council's inception it has been controlled by both Labour and the Conservatives at times. From 1999 to 2018 the council was under no overall control as no political party held a majority of seats.[6] Labour gained overall control of the council in 2018 but lost its majority again in late 2020 when three councillors resigned from the party.[7] In the local elections of 2022, the Labour Party regained control of the Council.

In May 2020, Cllr Joshua Sheard (Conservative) was elected for the first time to represent the council ward of Birstall and Birkenshaw. At the age of 19 years old Cllr. Sheard became the youngest councillor to be elected to Kirklees council in its 47 year history.

'New Council'

Following several years of funding cuts from national government, in 2016 the council started transitioning to a different service model which the cabinet calls being a New Council. The stated aim is to focus the reduced resources on services that only the council can provide, particularly those supporting vulnerable people, while encouraging communities to do more for themselves.[8]

Leadership challenge

Shortly after the 2016 local elections, Labour councillors initially decided to replace incumbent council leader David Sheard with Shabir Pandor.[9][10][11]

Pandor was nominated to become leader at the council's AGM, but his nomination fell by 33 votes to 31. Sheard and three other Labour councillors Scott, Turner & Hughes did not attend the meeting and councillors from all other parties voted against Pandor. With no leader, the council was run temporarily by the Chief Executive.[12][13]

Pandor eventually resigned as Labour group leader. Sheard was re-elected as leader of the council and appointed Pandor as his deputy.[14] Pandor was subsequently elected leader of the council in 2018.

'Ratesgate' scandal

In June 2016 the Huddersfield Daily Examiner exposed several councillors who had failed to pay their Council Tax. Five serving councillors, four Labour and one Conservative, had been issued with court claims after previously receiving reminder letters.[15]

Two councillors who had denied the allegations, Deputy Leader Jean Calvert and Amanda Pinnock, were suspended by the Labour Party. It was the second time in as many years that Calvert had failed to pay her Council Tax when it was due, and Pinnock had accused the Examiner of racism. All councillors subsequently paid their debts before facing the court.[16]

Failings in children's services

In late 2016 Ofsted inspected Kirklees Council's services for vulnerable children and judged them to be inadequate.[17] In response, Education Secretary Justine Greening appointed Eleanor Brazil as Children's Services Commissioner to make recommendations for improvement.[18]

In her report published following the 2017 general election, Ms Brazil found that Kirklees did not have the leadership or management capacity to achieve the required standard. She recommended that Kirklees enter a formal partnership with Leeds City Council, a good neighbouring local authority.[19] The Director of Children's Services in Leeds, Steve Walker, took overall responsibility for services in Kirklees.[20]

In June 2019 Ofsted conducted another inspection and found all aspects of children's services still required improvement to be good.[21]


Main article: Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council elections

Electoral arrangements

The council is composed of 69 councillors, three for each of the district's 23 wards. Elections are held three years out of four, on the first Thursday of May. One third of the councillors are elected, for a four-year term, in each election.

Exceptions to this include by-elections and ward boundary changes. In 2004 the wards were redrawn, so there was a general election of the entire council.[22] The electorate were given three votes each to elect three councillors for each ward. The candidate with the most votes was elected for the standard four-year term, the candidate with the second highest number of votes was elected for three years and the candidate with the third highest number of votes was elected for two years; therefore the next election for their seat was held in 2006.

Political history

All three of the United Kingdom's main political parties: the Labour Party, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have had strong representation on the council. Each of the parties has formed the largest group on the council at some point. From 1999 until 2018, no single party had a majority.

Each of these parties has wards where they currently hold all the seats with a comfortable majority of votes at recent elections:[6]

The other wards may be seen as marginal, with different parties capturing them in different years.

The Green Party has been represented on the council since 1996, when they won a seat in the Newsome ward. Since then, the ward has consistently elected Green Party councillors.

The British National Party had a councillor elected in Heckmondwike ward in 2004, and then gained two more seats in 2006. By 2010, they had lost all of their seats and the party no longer stands in local elections.

In 2006 a Save Huddersfield NHS group was formed to campaign against plans to move medical services from Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to Halifax. The group fielded three candidates, including a local general practitioner who gained a seat in the Crosland Moor and Netherton ward.[23] The councillor was not re-elected in 2010.

In 2017 the Heavy Woollen District Independents started to compete in elections in that area. They had their first councillor elected in Dewsbury East ward in 2019.[24]

Current political make-up

The council is currently run by a majority Labour Party administration.

The political make-up of the council is as follows:

Party Political make-up of Kirklees Council
Party Seats[25] Current Council
  Lib Dem
  Heavy Woollen
36 18 8 3 1 4
Labour Conservative Liberal Democrat Green HW Ind

Decision making

The council uses executive arrangements. Councillors elect a leader, who appoints other members of the cabinet.[26]

Local committees

The council established Area Committees for councillors representing groups of wards to meet in their localities. In 2014 the wards were regrouped into four larger District Committees with the prospect of greater devolution of decision making from the Executive.[27] However, in 2017 the District Committees were not re-established, and since then individual councillors have been allocated budgets instead.[28]


Councillors appoint a chairman annually, who serves as the Mayor of Kirklees. The mayor represents the council at civic engagements and supports the work of their designated charity.

Mayors of Kirklees[29]
Name Party Civic Year
Reginald Hartley, JP Labour 1974–75
William Gregory Labour 1975–76
Andrew Alastair Mason Conservative 1976–77
Jack Brooke Conservative 1977–78
Major Charles Cyril Kenchington Independent 1978–79
Donald White Labour 1979–80
Marjorie Fisher Labour 1980–81
Fred Pickles, J Labour 1981–82
Jack Wood Labour 1982–83
Alfred Ramsden Labour 1983–84
Stanley Dawson Labour 1984–85
Colin C. Walker, JP Labour 1985–86
Mary Walsh Labour 1986–87
George Speight, JP Labour 1987–88
John Greaves Holt Conservative 1988–89
Colin Watson Labour 1989–90
Thomas Patrick O'Donovan Labour 1990–91
Jack Brooke Labour 1991–92
David A. Wright, JP Labour 1992–93
John Mernagh, JP Labour 1993–94
Harold Sheldon Labour 1994–95
Kenneth Douglas Sims Conservative 1995–96
Allison Harrison Labour 1996–97
Rita Briggs Labour 1997–98
Michael Bower Liberal Democrats 1998–99
Harry Fox Labour 1999–00
Ann Elspeth Denham Conservative 2000–01
Mohan Singh Sokhal, JP Labour 2001–02
Margaret R. Bates Conservative 2002–03
Barbara Allonby Liberal Democrats 2003–04
Mary Harkin Labour 2004–05
Margaret Fearnley Liberal Democrats 2005–06
Donald Firth Conservative 2006–07
Jean Calvert Labour 2007–08
Kamran Hussain Liberal Democrats 2008–09
Julie Stewart-Turner Green 2009–10
Andrew Palfreeman Conservative 2010–11
Eric Firth Labour 2011–12
David Ridgway Liberal Democrats 2012–13
Martyn Bolt Conservative 2013–14
Ken Smith Labour 2014–15
Paul Kane Labour 2015–16
Jim Dodds Conservative 2016–17
Christine Iredale Liberal Democrats 2017–18
Gwen Lowe Labour 2018–19
Mumtaz Hussain Labour 2019–21
Nigel Patrick Conservative 2021–incumbent


  1. ^ Council, Kirklees (30 January 2016). "Chief Executive, strategic directors and service directors". Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  2. ^ Earnshaw, Tony (23 May 2018). "New era for Kirklees Council as Shabir Pandor is elected leader". Huddersfield Examiner. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Current composition of the council". January 2016.
  4. ^ "Councillors". 30 July 2021.
  5. ^ "The West Yorkshire Combined Authority Order 2014". Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Previous Local elections summary". Kirklees Council. March 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  7. ^ Earnshaw, Tony (19 November 2020). "Labour loses Kirklees Council majority after three councillors quit the party". Yorkshire Live. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  8. ^ "Our new council". It's time to talk. 23 January 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Kirklees Council leader Clr David Sheard announces shock departure". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. May 2016. Archived from the original on 25 June 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Toppled Kirklees Council leader David Sheard takes to Twitter to vent anger". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. May 2016. Archived from the original on 22 May 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Ousted Kirklees Council leader speaks out over Labour coup against him". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. May 2016. Archived from the original on 22 May 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Put up or shut up!' Angry Kirklees Council leader-elect Shabir Pandor vows to fight on". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. May 2016. Archived from the original on 29 May 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Chaotic scenes as Kirklees Council struggles to find a new leader". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. May 2016. Archived from the original on 28 May 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Re-elected Kirklees Council leader David Sheard adds new faces to his top team Angry Kirklees Council leader-elect Shabir Pandor vows to fight on". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. June 2016. Archived from the original on 1 July 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Named: The Kirklees councillors summonsed over council tax arrears". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. June 2016. Archived from the original on 5 June 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Councillors suspended by the Labour party after council tax controversy". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. June 2016. Archived from the original on 7 June 2016. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  17. ^ "Inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers and Review of the effectiveness of the Local Safeguarding Children Board" (PDF). Ofsted. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Statutory direction to Kirklees Council in relation to children's services under Section 497A(4B) of the Education Act 1996" (PDF). Department for Education. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  19. ^ Brazil, Eleanor (14 September 2017). "Kirklees Children's Services: report to the Secretary of State" (PDF). Department for Education. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  20. ^ Shaw, Martin (15 September 2017). "MPs vow to hold Kirklees to account after Leeds City Council brought in to sort out failing children's services". The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
  21. ^ "Kirklees Children's Services: Inspection of children's social care services". Ofsted. 10 June 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  22. ^ "The Borough of Kirklees (Electoral Changes) Order 2003". Office of Public Sector Information. 2003. Archived from the original on 19 March 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  23. ^ "A Clear Mesage". Huddersfield Examiner. 6 May 2006. p. 1.
  24. ^ "Independent Aleks Lukic takes seat from Labour in Dewsbury East". Examiner Live. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Current composition of the council". Kirklees Council. 2021. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  26. ^ "Committee details – Cabinet". Kirklees Council. 28 June 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  27. ^ Douglas, Joanne (2 June 2014). "Four new district areas for Kirklees Council devolution put forward – see which district your home would be in". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  28. ^ "Ward Budgets 2017/18". Kirklees Council.
  29. ^ "Former mayors". Kirklees Council. January 2017. Retrieved 28 June 2017.