A NEW deputy leader of Coventry City Council has been ‘appointed’ by leader Ann Lucas to replace the late Phil Townshend – without the usual voting process.
Labour councillor Abdul Khan – a cabinet member, lawyer and former business partner of Coun Townshend – became the council’s deputy leader last night at a private meeting of the ruling Labour group.
A new council deputy leader or leader is usually elected by a secret ballot among the group of councillors from the political party which commands a majority on the council.
But the Observer has learned no other potential candidates stepped forward and no ballot was triggered.
The group’s approval of the leader’s ‘apppointment’ came with a “show of hands”, a source claimed.
One Labour group source alleged there was no time for anyone else to step forward, as Coun Lucas’s choice had been “sprung on us” without due notice.
Coun Lucas in May narrowly survived a leadership contest triggered by rebels within her group.
Many expect her to face another contest next year, if she seeks a third year as leader.
Foleshill councillor Abdul Khan is regarded as a relatively low-profile cabinet member, who has in recent years had responsibility for culture, leisure, sport and libraries.
He has lived in Foleshill for over 30 years and is a Coventry University Law graduate.
Coun Townshend’s death aged 57 was announced on October 15 this year.
The pair for several years shared a legal practice – The Law Partnership Solicitors LLP – based in Foleshill Road, Coventry.
Both Coun Townshend and his predecessor as deputy leader, Coun George Duggins, had been elected in the role by the more typical secret ballot of the group.
More to come.