Ousted leader attacks Tory and Lib Dem pair over ‘coup’

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The ousted leader of Calderdale Council has hit back at political rivals after a vote of no confidence was passed.

Voters woke up yesterday to a new Conservative minority administration and a new council leader following Wednesday’s council meeting.

Coun Tim Swift was removed from the top job by a motion put forward by the council’s Conservative Leader Coun Stephen Baines, and seconded by Liberal Democrat Leader, Coun Janet Battye.

Coun 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.

“In the ultimate show of hypocrisy, the two issues which Couns 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.”

Coun Baines replaced Coun Swift as Leader and appointed Coun Scott Benton as Deputy Leader as well as overhauling the Cabinet to include a role for the council’s only independent member, Coun Colin Raistrick, for children and young people’s services.

Coun Baines claimed the Labour leadership have “completely 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”.

He said: “Our priorities will be to re-look at the Hipperholme crossroads and the current parking charges.”

This is believed to be the first time the council’s administration has changed as a result of a vote of no confidence.

It had been a Labour minority local authority since a Labour-Lib Dem coalition broke up in April last year.

Coun Battye said: “We don’t prefer the Tories to Labour, and we are not part of the Conservative and Independent Cabinet.

“We’re simply trying to ensure that the council listens to local people and the Cabinet listens to the council so that local people get the services they need.”