Leeds City Council

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Leeds City Council
Coat of arms of Leeds.svg
Leeds City Council.svg
Council logo
Founded1 April 1974
Cllr Eileen Taylor, Labour
since 23 May 2019
Cllr James Lewis, Labour
since 24 February 2021
Deputy Leader
Cllr Debra Coupar, Labour
since May 2018
Cllr Andrew Carter CBE, Conservative
since 27 May 2010
Tom Riordan
since August 2010
Seats99 councillors
Leeds City Council 2019.svg
Political groups
  Labour (56)
Other parties
  Conservative (23)
  Liberal Democrats (7)
  Morley Borough Independents (5)
  Garforth & Swillington Independents (3)
  Green (3)
  Independent (1)[a]
Vacant (1)
  Vacant (1)
Joint committees
West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Length of term
4 years[b]
Third of council elected three years out of four
Multiple member first-past-the-post
Last election
2 May 2019
Next election
6 May 2021
Meeting place
Civic Hall Leeds West Yorkshire.jpg
Leeds Civic Hall

Leeds City Council is the local authority of the City of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. It is a metropolitan district council, one of five in West Yorkshire and one of 36 in the metropolitan counties of England, and provides the majority of local government services in Leeds. It has the second-largest population of any council in the United Kingdom with approximately 800,000 inhabitants living within its area; only Birmingham City Council has more. Since 1 April 2014, it has been a constituent council of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.


Leeds Corporation[edit]

Leeds (often spelled Leedes) was a manor and then a town, receiving a charter from King Charles I as a 'Free Borough' in 1626 giving it powers of self-government, leading to the formation of the Leeds Corporation to administer it.[4][5] The leader was an alderman, the first holder being Sir John Savile.[6] A second charter, in 1661 from King Charles II, granted the title Mayor to Thomas Danby,[6] The Corporation continued until 1835 when the Municipal Corporation Act was passed dissolving this and other town corporations and giving a new governance and electoral structure.[4] In 1893 Leeds became a city and in 1897 the leader became Lord Mayor.

Leeds City Council[edit]

The modern city council was established in 1974, with the first elections being held in advance in 1973. Under the Local Government Act 1972, the area of the County Borough of Leeds was combined with those of the Municipal Borough of Morley, the Municipal Borough of Pudsey, Aireborough Urban District, Horsforth Urban District, Otley Urban District, Garforth Urban District, Rothwell Urban District and parts of Tadcaster Rural District, Wetherby Rural District and Wharfedale Rural District from the West Riding. The new Leeds district was one of five metropolitan districts in West Yorkshire. It was granted a borough and city status to become the City of Leeds.

Until 1986 the city council was a second-tier authority, with West Yorkshire County Council providing many key services. However, the metropolitan county councils were abolished under the Local Government Act 1985 and the council took responsibility for all former County Council functions except policing, fire services and public transport which continue to be run on a joint basis by councillors from the former boroughs of West Yorkshire County Council.

Council services[edit]

Leeds City Council is responsible for providing all statutory local authority services in Leeds, except for those it provides jointly in conjunction with other West Yorkshire Authorities. This includes education, housing, planning, transport and highways, social services, libraries, leisure and recreation, waste collection, waste disposal, environmental health and revenue collection. The council is one of the largest employers in West Yorkshire, with around 33,000 employees.[7] By the Summer of 2016, Leeds City Council have plans to create the biggest skateboarding park in Europe. The location will be in Hyde Park.

Education Leeds[edit]

Education Leeds was set up in 2001 as a non-profit making company wholly owned by Leeds City Council to provide education support services for the council.[8] For its first five years it operated as a public-private partnership between the Council and Capita. The senior councillors of the council's Executive Board voted in March 2010 to stop using Education Leeds to provide services from 31 March 2011,[9] thereby effectively causing it to cease operation.


Until 1 October 2013, Leeds City Council's housing stock was managed and operated by three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) since 2007. They were wholly owned by the Council but operated as autonomous and self-governing organisations. The ALMOs, which are arranged on a regional basis were:

  • East North East Homes[10]
  • West North West Homes[11]
  • Aire Valley Homes[12]

As of 1 October 2013, the ALMOs returned to Leeds City Council and all management of Council housing stock became the responsibility of Housing Leeds. At this point, the ALMOs ceased to exist.

Management of more than 2000 homes in Belle Isle is carried out by Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation, the largest tenant management organisation in the UK outside London.[13]

Leeds Museums & Galleries[edit]

Leeds Museums & Galleries is a museum service run by Leeds City Council.[14]

Established in 1821, it is the largest local authority-run museum service in England, with one of the larger and more significant multidisciplinary collections in the UK, looking after 1.3 million objects.[15] The service is run and primarily funded by Leeds City Council (LCC), and plays a significant role in shaping the cultural life of the city, but as a leading museum service it has a regional and national reputation and role. In 2012 the organisation achieved Major Partner Museum status from Arts Council England, which brought significant additional funding and further national prominence and expectation.[16]

The service has at times run major events across the City, with visitors numbering in the millions, such as the 2014-19 Legacies of War Project, which examined how Leeds was affected by the First World War,[17] and developed teaching materials for schools.[18]

Leeds Museums & Galleries is made up of nine different sites: Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds City Museum, Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey House Museum, Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, Thwaite Mills, Lotherton Hall, Temple Newsam and Leeds Discovery Centre.

Waste disposal and recycling[edit]

The city operates waste disposal and recycling facilities in Kirkstall, Meanwood, Middleton, Otley, Pudsey, Seacroft, Wetherby (Thorp Arch) and Yeadon.[19]

West Yorkshire Joint Services[edit]

West Yorkshire Joint Services provides services for the five district local authorities in West Yorkshire (Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield) in the areas of archaeology, archives, ecology, materials testing, public analyst, and trading standards.[20]

Council structures[edit]

Overview and scrutiny[edit]

The executive and workings of the council are overseen by six scrutiny boards. These panels involve councillors from all parties and some independent members. Scrutiny boards are able to review decisions taken by the executive or by officers of the council and to refer them for further consideration.


The licensing committee of the council is drawn from councillors from all parties and is responsible for entertainment, refreshment, personal and premises licences established under the Licensing Act 2003. Three plans panels are responsible for determining planning applications which have not been delegated to officers for decision, such as large or controversial applications or those in which a councillor or officer has a personal interest.

Community committees[edit]

Ten community committees are responsible for managing certain area-specific budgets and responsibilities, such as community centres and CCTV, in partnership with local communities. Committees also exert considerable influence over other areas of local interest such as street-cleansing and community policing.

Lord Mayor of Leeds[edit]

The Lord Mayor of Leeds is a ceremonial, non-partisan position elected annually by and from the councillors. As well as acting as the Chair of the council, the Lord Mayor represents the City of Leeds at events within and outside the city. Councillor Eileen Taylor was elected as Lord Mayor for the 2019-2020 municipal year on 23 May 2019.[21]

The first Mayor of Leeds was Thomas Danby in 1661, and the first Lord Mayor was James Kitson in 1897.[22]

During the mayoral year, the Lords Mayor's Charity Appeal raises funds for one or more charities of the mayor's choice.


The council operates a Leader and Cabinet executive as defined under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 2000. The Executive Board of the Council currently consists of eight executive members with portfolio responsibilities from the ruling Labour group, and the leaders the two biggest opposition groups (Conservative and Liberal Democrat).[23]

Since February 2021, the Leader of the Council has been James Lewis (Labour). He succeeded Judith Blake CBE, the first woman ever to lead the council.[24][25]

Current council leadership
Portfolio Councillor (electoral ward) Term
Ceremonial leadership
Lord Mayor of Leeds (2019–2021)[c]
First citizen of the City of Leeds
Cllr Eileen Taylor (Chapel Allerton)[27] 2019–present[28]
Deputy Lord Mayor of Leeds (2019–2021) Cllr James McKenna (Armley)[29]
Executive leadership[31]
Leader of the Council
Leader of the Labour Council Group
Executive Member for Resources
Cllr James Lewis (Kippax and Methley)[32] 2021–present
Deputy Leader of the Council
Executive Member for Communities
Cllr Debra Coupar (Temple Newsam)[33] 2018–present[34]
Executive Member for Economy Cllr Mary Harland (Kippax and Methley)[35] 2021–present
Executive Member for Environment and Active Lifestyles Cllr Mohammed Rafique (Chapel Allerton)[36] 2017–present
Executive Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainable Development Cllr Helen Hayden (Temple Newsam)[37]
Executive Member for Children, Families and Adult Social Care[d] Cllr Fiona Venner (Kirkstall)[38][39] 2019–present
Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Employment Cllr Jonathan Pryor (Headingley and Hyde Park)[40] 2019–present
Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing Cllr Salma Arif (Gipton and Harehills)[41][42] 2021–present
Chief Whip of the Council Cllr Jane Dowson (Chapel Allerton)[43] 2018–present
Opposition leadership
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Group
Cllr Andrew Carter CBE (Calverley and Farsley)[44]
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Cllr Stewart Golton (Rothwell)[46] 2010–present[47]
Leader of the Morley Borough Independents Group Cllr Robert Finnigan (Morley North)[48] 2019–present
Leader of the Garforth and Swillington Independents Group Cllr Mark Dobson (Garforth and Swillington)[49] 2017–present[50]
Leader of the Green Group Cllr David Blackburn (Farnley and Wortley)[51] 2013–present[52]

Leaders and political control since 1945[edit]

City of Leeds (County Borough) Council until 31 March 1974
Leader Years Political Control
Unknown 19451947 Labour
19471949 Conservative
19491951 Labour
19511952 Conservative
19521967 Labour
Frank Marshall 19671972 Conservative
Albert King 1972–1974 No Overall Control:
Labour minority administration
Leeds Metropolitan District Council from 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972
Leader Years Political Control
Albert King 1974–1975 No Overall Control:
Labour minority,
then Conservative minority
Irwin Bellow 19751976
1976–1979 Conservative
Peter Sparling 1979–1980 No Overall Control:
Conservative minority
George Mudie 1980–1989 Labour
Jon Trickett 1989–1996
Brian Walker 1996–2003
Keith Wakefield 20032004
Mark Harris (Joint Leader) 2004–November 2007[e] No Overall Control:
Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition,
then Labour minority
Andrew Carter (Joint Leader)
December 2007–2010[f]
Richard Brett (Joint Leader)
Keith Wakefield 20102011
2011–2015 Labour
Judith Blake 2015–2021
James Lewis 2021–present

Elected Mayor[edit]

On 3 May 2012 a referendum was held to determine whether or not to replace the current leadership arrangements with a directly elected mayor.

The question that was asked in the referendum was set by central government, and was:[53]

How would you like Leeds City Council to be run?
  • By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.
  • By a mayor who is elected by voters. This would be a change from how the council is run now.

The proposal for an elected mayor was opposed by the leaders of the four largest groups on the Council. It was supported by Leeds Conservative MPs Stuart Andrew (Pudsey) and Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell).

The referendum results showed a rejection of the proposal for a directly elected mayor, with 63% (107,910) voting to keep the status quo.[54]

Political composition[edit]

The council is composed of 99 councillors, three for each of the city's electoral wards.

One councillor for each ward – a third of all of the total councillors – is elected at every council election, which are held in three of every four years. Each councillor is also elected to serve a four-year term. This only differs following a boundary review, where all council seats must be re-elected. The most recent full council elections were in 1980, 2004 and 2018. The latter election saw all three ward council seats up for re-election, with each of the three successful candidates in each ward awarded a unique one, two or four-year term respectively with longer terms given to the candidates with the highest number of votes.[3]

Since the 2011 council election, the council has been run by a Labour majority administration. Between the 2004 and 2011 elections, the council's political composition meant no one party had a full majority and therefore there was no overall control. During this time, a coalition administration between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was formally agreed. Throughout the coalition, both parties' Group Leaders jointly shared the office of Leader of the Council, each holding it for six months in turn. However, in 2010, the Labour Group regained control as a minority administration with the support of the two Green Party councillors.[55]

Except for the coalition, the Labour Party has led the council in 34 of the last 40 council municipal years since 1980. Beforehand, the council had been under no overall control until 1976 when the Conservatives took majority control until 1979, when it returned to a hung council with no overall control. Labour regained the leadership of the council following the 1980 council election, having won an absolute majority of 62 of the 99 council seats.

Year Labour Liberal Democrats Conservative Morley Borough Independents Others
2019 57 8 23 5 6
2018 61 6 22 5 5
2016 63 9 19 5 3
2015 63 9 19 5 3
2014 63 9 18 5 4
2012 63 10 19 5 2
2011[56] 55 16 21 5 2
2010 48 21 22 6 2
2008[57] 43 24 22 5 5
2007[58] 43 24 22 5 5
2006[59] 40 26 24 5 4
2004 40 26 24 6 3
2003 52 22 20 0 5
2002 57 20 18 0 4
2000 61 19 16 0 3
1999 71 14 12 0 2
1998 80 9 9 0 1

Electoral wards[edit]

Leeds City Council's 33 electoral wards have been fully reviewed twice since 2000, once before the 2004 council election and again before the 2018 council election.

Beforehand, the ward boundaries had not been amended since the last review in 1979. The 1979 review increased the number of wards in Leeds from 32 to 33, thereby increasing the number of councillors from 96 to 99. The 1980 council election was the first to be contested based on the new ward boundaries across the city and therefore it was a full council, all-out election where all of the 99 council seats were up for election.

The boundary review between February 2002 and July 2003 was completed by the Boundary Committee for England.[60] The review recommended the retention of 99 councillors representing 33 wards across the city, but suggested substantial alterations to ward boundaries to reduce the level of variance between different wards. Prior to the boundary review, based on the 2001 electorate, the largest and smallest wards respectively were Morley South (22,167 electors) and Hunslet (10,955 electors). Following the review all wards had an electorate within 10% of the average of all 33 wards across the city.[61]

A similar process was completed in November 2017 by the Boundary Committee's successor, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. The process had held consultations since July 2016. The biggest ward boundary changes saw the creation of two new wards in Headingley & Hyde Park and Little London and Woodhouse from the previous Hyde Park & Woodhouse and Headingley wards. City & Hunslet also became Hunslet & Riverside.[62] Following the example of previous reviews, all of the city's councillors were re-elected together again based on the new ward boundaries in May 2018.

The current 33 council wards are:


In September 2012 the Council announced its intention to introduce a bring your own device policy as part of cost saving measures.[63] In the same year, the Council was fined £95,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after it sent confidential and sensitive information about a child in care to the wrong recipient. Commenting on Leeds and other authorities who had made similar data protection breaches, the ICO said "It would be far too easy to consider these breaches as simple human error. The reality is that they are caused by councils treating sensitive personal data in the same routine way they would deal with more general correspondence. Far too often in these cases, the councils do not appear to have acknowledged that the data they are handling is about real people, and often the more vulnerable members of society."[64]


  1. ^ Elected as a Labour councillor, Ronald Grahame (Burmantofts and Richmond Hill) was charged with historic child sex offences in December 2020 and is currently "suspended from the Labour party pending the outcome of the case."[1][2]
  2. ^ Due to ward changes for Leeds City Council, all council seats were contested on 3 May 2018. Councillors will serve either four, two, or one years, with longer terms awarded to the candidates with the highest number of votes in their district. Notwithstanding this, Leeds City Council councillors are elected to serve four year terms, with elections held three years out of every four.[3]
  3. ^ The original one-year (2019-2020) terms for Taylor and her Deputy Lord Mayor, McKenna, were extended for an extra municipal year following the COVID-19 pandemic and postponement of the council's Annual Council Meeting and Mayor Making ceremony to create the new Lord Mayor of Leeds for the next municipal year.[26]
  4. ^ Executive Member for Children and Families (2019–2021)
  5. ^ Under the terms of the coalition agreement between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives from May 2004, the full-time post of Leader of the Council swapped between the leaders of the two parties' council groupings every six months:
    • Mark Harris (Liberal Democrats) from 28 June to 30 November 2004, 24 May to 30 November 2005, 23 May to 30 November 2006, 24 May to 30 November 2007, and
    • Andrew Carter (Conservatives) from 1 December 2004 to 23 May 2005, 1 December 2005 to 22 May 2006, 1 December 2006 to 24 May 2007.
  6. ^ Richard Brett was elected to replace Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Leeds City Council after Harris stepped down on 30 November 2007. Under the terms of the coalition agreement between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives from May 2004, the full-time post of Leader of the Council swapped between the leaders of the two parties' council groupings every six months:
    • Andrew Carter (Conservatives) from 1 December 2007 to 22 May 2008, 1 December 2008 to 21 May 2009, 1 December 2009 to 27 May 2010, and
    • Brett (Liberal Democrats) from 22 May to 30 November 2008, 21 May to 30 November 2009.


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  2. ^ Gildea, Samantha (4 December 2020). "Leeds councillor charged with historic child sex offences". Leeds Live. Reach plc.
  3. ^ a b "Leeds City Council Election". Leeds City Council. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  4. ^ a b Steven Burt & Kevin Grady (2002) The Illustrated History of Leeds, 2nd edn (Breedon Books, Derby) ISBN 185983 316 0
  5. ^ Diane Saunders & Philippa Lester (2014) From the Leylands to Leeds 17
  6. ^ a b Leeds Civic Trust Archived 27 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine Leeds Coat of Arms
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  15. ^ 'Overview'.
  16. ^ Rebecca Atkinson, 'ACE Increases Number of Major Partner Museums', Museums Journal (1 July 2014).
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  18. ^ 'The cultural history of the city is now at teachers' fingertips', Yorkshire Evening Post (18 June 2018).
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  39. ^ "Kirkstall councillor re-appointed to executive board amid shake up". westleedsdispatch.com. West Leeds Dispatch. 14 February 2021.
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  46. ^ "Councillor Stewart Golton". democracy.leeds.gov.uk. Leeds City Council. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  47. ^ Baron, John (11 May 2010). "Leeds Liberal Democrats elect Stewart Golton as new leader". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  48. ^ "Councillor Robert Finnigan". democracy.leeds.gov.uk. Leeds City Council. Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  49. ^ "Councillor Mark Dobson". democracy.leeds.gov.uk. Leeds City Council. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  50. ^ "Leeds council in chaos? Second councillor quits ruling Labour group within three days". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
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  52. ^ "Green Councillors in Leeds". Leeds Green Party people. Lukas Hardt. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  53. ^ "Schedule 1, The Local Authorities (Conduct of Referendums)(England) Regulations 2012". Legislation.gov.uk. 8 February 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2012.
  54. ^ Leeds votes no to elected mayor - Leeds City Council, 4 May 2012
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