BRADFORD’S new council leader, Susan Hinchcliffe, has insisted the Labour group is united after taking over from David Green in a surprise move.

Cllr Hinchcliffe had gone head-to-head with Cllr Green for the top job and secured the support of a majority of Labour councillors in a ballot on Monday night.

The change in leadership came only days after the Labour party had celebrated not just hanging on to Bradford Council but also extending its majority in last week’s local elections.

Yesterday, Cllr Hinchcliffe denied rumours that a rift in the group lay behind the leadership challenge.

She said: “A leader is selected for four years so Dave had done a four-year term and had taken the council through very difficult times.

“The group met last night and decided what we want for the future, because of course councils are going to be very different in the future. It’s going to require very different skill sets.”

Cllr Hinchcliffe (Windhill and Wrose) said she had set out to her colleagues a vision for what she wanted to achieve in the district, including raising Bradford’s profile.

She said: “I’m so privileged and delighted the Labour group has put its faith in me.”

Labour has faced a turbulent few months locally, with the national party taking over the selection process for election candidates in Bradford West as the constituency’s MP, Naz Shah, raised concerns about ‘Pakistani’-style clan politics within the local party.

The national row over anti-Semitism within Labour then engulfed the local party, leading to the suspension of Ms Shah and two district councillors.

The leader of the Conservative group, Councillor Simon Cooke, said the replacement of Cllr Green showed further evidence of Labour in-fighting and that “dumping the leader of the council” was not what the district needed.

He said: “Whether it has been because the Labour party are all over the place, or whether there is some wider reason behind this, it’s not what the city needs because they are going to spend their time arguing with each other rather than running the city.”

He said Cllr Green’s record as leader had been mixed, but argued that the district needed “clarity, direction and continuity” right now and said he was not a fan of Cllr Hinchcliffe as a politician.

Cllr Hinchcliffe denied there was a split in the Labour group, saying: “Both Dave and I were very clear that whatever happened last night, we wanted a unified group going forward.”

She asked for her political opponents to judge her on her record, saying she had run the Get Bradford Working scheme which got 2,000 people into work and secured a 3,000 per cent increase in funding for new school places.

Cllr Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrats, admitted she was surprised to hear Cllr Green was being replaced. She said she was looking forward to working with Cllr Hinchcliffe.

Cllr Hinchcliffe yesterday set out her vision for the district, saying her priority would be education, followed by employment and social care.

She said: “We have to make sure our young people in the district deliver their full potential. If we don’t, then we have a generation who are in poverty.

“If we do succeed, we will be a terrific district of prosperity and success, so that is the most important thing for us to deliver on.”

Cllr Val Slater (Royds) was re-elected unopposed to the role of deputy council leader. Cllr Hinchcliffe said she has yet to choose the team of Labour councillors who will make up the decision-making Executive.

Cllr Green did not want to comment.