A dramatic night of events has seen wholesale changes in the running of Calderdale Council after former leader Councillor Tim Swift was ousted after a vote of no confidence.
The turn of events saw Conservative leader Coun Stephen Baines issue the motion at full council and the move was supported by the Liberal Democrats and by Independent Coun Colin Raistrick.
The decision to submit the vote of no confidence came to a head over the outcomes of the scrutiny meeting discussing evening parking charges in Halifax and the controversial propsals for Hipperholme crossroads.
The Conservative group and opposition parties said: “It has become clear that the Labour Group has no intention of honouring the assurances it gave in May 2014 that it would consult and work with the other parties represented on Calderdale Council.
“They are ignoring the views of the public of Calderdale and the wishes of the Council that were clearly set out at its budget-setting meeting in February.
“All the current opposition groups on the council believe that the attitude and actions of the Labour Cabinet are totally unacceptable, and that the public of Calderdale deserve better.”
During the meeting, Coun Swift said it was “outrageous” that out of courtesy, other members were not notified about the motion being presented at the meeting and was not following correct procedures.
However, Coun Baines replied saying that a similar motion was made by Coun Swift and the Labour Group when he was leader in 2009 and he had no prior knowledge until meeting itself.
“We have followed the legal process by the letter and the rules of the Council,” he said
Coun Baines said the move had come to a head over the recent scrutiny meetings regarding two issues - Hipperholme Crossroads and parking charges with the opposition stating the Labour Cabinet have made clear their intention to push ahead with their own agenda.
The motion was passed for the removal of Councillor Swift, 24 votes to 22.
The result of the vote means a minority Conservative administration working in conjunction with all the opposition councillor.
Labour has accused the Tories and Lib Dems of proving once and for all that the two parties are truly two sides of the same coin after they concocted a secret deal to carry out a coup of Calderdale Council last night.
Speaking after the council meeting, Labour Group leader Tim Swift said: “This cynical coup proves once and for all that the Lib Dems and the Tories are two sides of the same coin. In Westminster for four years they have been in cahoots and now they are going to do the same here in Calderdale.
“It shows that if you vote Lib Dem you get Tory. The chaos and hours of deliberations which followed their power-grab last night showed they didn’t have a clue what to do next – if that is a sign of how Calderdale Council is to be run for the next nine months I worry for the people of the borough – they deserve better than this.
“In the ultimate show of hypocrisy, the two issues which Councillor Battye and Baines pretended this was all about – car parking charges in the town centre and Hipperholme crossroads – were both subsequently swiped from the agenda and so were not even discussed at all.
“The Tories and Lib Dems have been exposed as power-hungry shadows of their national parties, putting their selfish goals above the best interests of Calderdale residents.
“Labour will hold the new administration to account strongly and will be working harder than ever to secure an overall majority on Calderdale Council in next May’s elections.”
Labour Halifax MP Linda Riordan added: “This is a sad day for Calderdale. It’s only two months since the Labour Group was given a mandate by local residents to run the Council. It is a grubby, behind the scenes manoeuvre. It’s about secret deals, not democracy. We now have a Tory /Lib Dem Council, without anyone having voted for it, implementing unpopular Tory Lib Dem Government policies. It is power grab low on principles and high on opportunism.”
However, Conservative Calder Valley MP said on the outcome of the meeting: “The events of the last few weeks have shown that the Labour Leadership have no regard whatsoever for the views of the people of Calderdale. Despite assurances that they would listen to the public, they have completed ignored the wishes of local people with regard to removing unwanted parking charges and have pushed ahead with a road improvement scheme at Hipperholme which is simply not supported by the local community.
“The residents of Calderdale deserve an administration that will listen to local people and act in the best interests of the community and so I’m pleased to hear that the other parties will now form an administration which will put politics aside and put local people first.”