A COUNCIL faces political chaos starting with deadlock over its council tax setting tomorrow after a second senior figure quit its ruling coalition.
Yesterday former Pendle mayor and health boss Cllr Nawaz Ahmed resigned from Labour to sit as an independent.
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He follows Whitefield’s Cllr Nadeem Ahmed, another former ‘First Citizen’, who quit the Liberal Democrats earlier this month.
This means the ruling Labour/Lib Dem executive no longer have a majority when the full council seeks to set its budget and a 2.04 per cent rise in council tax tomorrow night.Borough deputy leader, Cllr Tony Greaves, admitted the authority was now ‘a laughing stock’.
Brierfield councillor Nawaz Ahmed is expected to vote for the Conservative alternative budget and join the opposition group after the meeting, following his former executive colleague Cllr Nadeem Ahmed.
This will leave Marsden ward British National Party councillor Brian Parker holding the balance of power with 24 Conservatives lined up against 15 Labour and nine Lib Dem councillors.
Cllr Parker is not expecting to attend the meeting owing to a family illness, but said: “I shall continue to exercise my council functions responsibly.”
The decision on the budget and council tax rise, adding £5 a year to the bill for a Band D semi-detached house, could hinge on the casting vote of the Tory mayor, Cllr Rosemary Carroll.
Cllr Greaves, leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “This is the result of Pakistani politics, family relationships and a campaign of intimidation by the Conservatives. It makes Pendle Council look like a laughing stock.”
Conservative group leader, Cllr Joe Cooney, said: “His allegations are absolute nonsense.
“The councillors quit their parties because of disillusion with the inept Labour/Lib Dem executive. What is making Pendle a laughing stock is the coalition’s power hungry determination to stay in office.”
Neither Cllr Nawaz Ahmed nor leader of the council, Labour’s Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, were available for comment yesterday.
Cllr Cooney said: “I hope that this will now be the trigger that Labour and the Lib Dems need to stop clinging to power, and allow the Conservatives to be involved in the decision making on Pendle Council.”
Cllr Greaves said: “Our executive will continue to run the council until the annual meeting in May.”