Former Leader of Kirklees Council reflects on his time in the role and says he will 'fully support' his successor
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Coun Pandor has been a councillor since 2002 and represents the Batley West ward. He became Deputy Leader of the Council in 2016 and rose to leader in 2018.
On Wednesday (July 26), he announced his resignation with immediate effect, with Deputy Leader Coun Cathy Scott automatically taking his place until a permanent leader is selected on September 13.
Since his resignation, it came to light that Coun Pandor was facing a no confidence vote that was set to take place this week.
Kirklees’ Tories had previously urged him to resign, accusing him of “wilfully misleading” the council through his handling of the case with former councillor Fazila Loonat.
Ms Loonat is currently serving a 14-week prison sentence for perverting the course of justice in an attempt to dodge a speeding penalty.
When the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) asked Coun Pandor why he had resigned, he said: “I’ve been leader for five years, deputy for two years. I’m still a councillor.
“Seven years is a long time. I know there’s speculation but there’s nothing untoward.
“I want to make sure I fully support the next leader and that we continue to do the best work for Kirklees.”
Speaking to the LDRS, Coun Pandor reflected on his time as Leader of Kirklees Council and spoke of his successes since taking up the role in the “aftermath of austerity”.
He explained his involvement in establishing a budget for investment to “put pride back into Kirklees”.
He explained how there had been investment into events like Huddersfield Carnival, Huddersfield Food and Drink Festival and Pride, as well as cash put into parks and playgrounds and major projects like the Huddersfield and Dewsbury Blueprints.
The Blueprint plans became official in 2020. However, while these ambitious projects are still in the works, they are having to be delivered through a “phased” approach due to the council’s precarious financial situation.
Coun Pandor said he was proud to have guided the council through the pandemic. He explained that this had been a “massive challenge” but “I’m proud of the work that took place guiding us through the pandemic”.
He explained that he made sure there were pop-up clinics, track and trace, local resilience hub, community champions helping distribute vaccinations and added: “We were genuinely all in it together.”
Speaking about exiting the pandemic, Coun Pandor said “We had a clear strategy but then the cost of living crisis hit.”
He explained that the council had "upped its game” when trying to put food on the tables of the people of Kirklees through district-wide initiatives like the Bread and Butter Thing and putting more money into food banks.
He also spoke of the need for fair funding and the “massive detrimental effect” that changes in the way the government funded Kirklees and some other local authorities had had on the local authority.
He said: “If it went back to 2010 formula funding, we would have a surplus and a better reserves position.
“Whatever we do, we’ve only got a set amount of money and we need to make sure our budget is balanced.”