Yorkshire council chief quits for job in London

THE Labour leader of one of Yorkshire’s largest local councils is to step down next month as the authority wrestles with unprecedented cuts to its budget.

Councillor Mehboob Khan, who has been leader of Huddersfield-based Kirklees Council for five years and a councillor for 17 years, has taken on a political advisor role in London with the Local Government Association.

Arrangements will now begin to appoint a new council leader from the Labour group, the largest party in the council chamber.

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Coun Khan said: “I feel the time is now right to move on as I have had a fantastic time as leader of a large council in a time of immense change for local government.

“It has been a privilege to be a councillor for Greenhead ward and leader of my home authority – but it would not be right to be leader for ever when it is a role which demands such a huge amount.

“My new post in London will be an exciting challenge, working with council leaders, the Mayor of London and Westminster.

“But I have no doubt that my successor, once that person is in place, will have a strong platform to build from and lead Kirklees through its most difficult financial challenges in its history.”

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Councillor Khan will remain as council leader until the end of February and will continue as a councillor for the time being.

He said: “While this has been a very difficult decision for me personally, my new role is an exciting challenge at the right time. You can only do such a high pressure role as council leader for so long while being as effective as possible, and I am confident that whoever my successor is, they will be able to take the council through the new challenges it is facing.”

Last night Kirklees Conservative group eader Councillor Robert Light criticised Coun Khan’s legacy, saying the council is “in chaos” with “staff morale at an all-time low.”

“His legacy is a divided borough and a council facing significant problems across a range of areas. His successor will face a major issue of how to rebuild internal and external confidence in the council.”