Denise Jeffery appointed first female leader of Wakefield Council

Wakefield Council has appointed Denise Jeffery as its new leader, making her the first woman to hold the position.

Coun Jeffery, who was nominated by her Labour colleagues for the position, will start the job on December 1, following the retirement of long-serving leader Peter Box.

Coun Jeffery will start the job on December 1, following the retirement of long-serving leader Peter Box, left.

Coun Jeffery will start the job on December 1, following the retirement of long-serving leader Peter Box, left.

Coun Box is standing down to concentrate on his new role as the chair of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire.

Coun Jeffery, was first elected to the chamber in 1988 before becoming councillor for Castleford Central and Glass Houghton in 2004, later becoming deputy leader.

Commenting on her appointment, which was confirmed at a full council meeting last Wednesday, she said: “I am very pleased and honoured to have been confirmed as Wakefield Council’s new leader, from December.

“I’d like to thank Coun Box for all his work over the last 21 years and I am looking forward to building on the council’s achievements.

Wakefield Council has appointed Denise Jeffery as its new leader, making her the first woman to hold the position.

Wakefield Council has appointed Denise Jeffery as its new leader, making her the first woman to hold the position.

“My priority now is to work with Peter and the chief executive to ensure a smooth transition.”

Coun Jeffery’s appointment came after the meeting was suspended for 15 minutes, when a row broke out between the council’s Labour and Conservative groups

The opposition Tories mischievously put forward five different motions calling other Labour members to be the leader.

The meeting briefly descended into anarchy, amid heckles and accusations of timewasting from both sides of the council chamber.

At that point, Wakefield mayor Charlie Keith adjourned the meeting, as he warned councillors they risked bringing the authority “into disrepute”.

He then left the chamber with Coun Box and Conservative group leader Nadeem Ahmed for 15 minutes for talks in a separate room.

When the meeting resumed, around 15 minutes later, Coun Jeffery was officially sworn in as the new leader.

Wakefield’s Labour group later confirmed that she will serve as “interim” leader, and will hold that position until the local elections next May.

Her first meeting as council leader will take place on December 11.