Meet the new Mayor of Calderdale Chris Pillai

Welcoming the new Mayor of Calderdale into office at a special ceremony at Halifax Minster, councillors believe Coun Chris Pillai’s experience will stand the borough in good stead as its leading citizen over the next year.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 7:00 am
The New Mayor of Calderdale Councillor Chris Pillai and the new Deputy Mayor Howard Blagbrough

Proposing Coun Pillai (Con, Rastrick) as candidate to take over the role of Mayor from Coun Dot Foster (Lab, Sowerby Bridge), Coun Steven Leigh (Con, Ryburn) said he had the right qualities for a role which is often the public face of the borough.

He said Coun Pillai was a very approachable individual, a man who commanded political respect, had high standards and a good sense of humour, all attributes which helped a councillor fulfill the role of Mayor.

Councillors wholeheartedly approved Coun Pillai and his Deputy Mayor, Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse), to take over their new roles.

Accepting the role, Coun Pillai said it was “a huge privilege and an honour” to serve the council and as Mayor to represent the borough.

Hopefully coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic was an incredible prospect for the new council, though it was not without its challenges, particularly financially.

But, said Coun Pillai of the year ahead: “It is exciting and hopefully rewarding for our community.”

He told councillors of all parties he was sure they would undertake this task with the good grace and kindness with which they usually treated each other and their common passion for politics and their communities.

“I am in no doubt you will play a part.

“I wish you all the best – thank you, and good luck for the future,” he said.

Both the council and he as Mayor had a strong team behind them to meet the challenges – as Mayor this included his wife Beverley, who is his Mayoress, he said.

Coun Leigh had said Coun Pillai had represented Rastrick ward for more than ten years and had a tremendous amount of knowledge about the workings of the council, having served in key roles including on the planning, audit and licensing committees and a range of outside bodies including West Yorkshire Fire Authority.

Coun Pillai has also served West Yorkshire as a Justice of the Peace (JP) for 17 years, including sitting at the high court at appeal hearings.

A successful career at senior level in healthcare as a hospital manager saw him delivering solutions in an increasingly complex regulatory environment.

And three years ago, serving as Deputy Mayor of Calderdale ensured he was well aware what the duties entailed, said Coun Leigh, who is Conservative group leader.

“I am very confident Chris will be an excellent Mayor of Calderdale and will serve the borough with great dignity, respect and complete decorum,” he said.

Seconding the proposal, Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) said he and Coun Pillai shared two passions – the Conservative Party, first meeting at a function 30 years ago, and cricket at both local and Yorkshire level.

Coun Pillai’s love of cricket had seen him form a new cricket club and obtain a lease for land at Clifton for the club to play on, said Coun Baines.

“In this role he will bring a lot of enthusiasm for everything he does,” he said.

Coun Pillai will have some experienced back-up too, in the form of Coun Blagbrough and Deputy Mayoress Carherine Kirk, who were Mayor and Mayoress of Calderdale themselves in 2016-17.

Coun George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe), proposing Coun Blagbrough as Deputy Mayor, seconded by Coun Sophie Whittaker (Con, Rastrick), said together Coun Pillai and Coun Blagbrough could help the Calderdale community reconnect and rebuild after the pandemic.