First female council leader in line for CBE as former finance boss and businessman honoured

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council
Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council
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The first female leader of Leeds City Council and a long-serving former council officer were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Coun Judith Blake and Alan Gay have been picked for their years of service to local government.

The council leader was awarded a CBE in the list while Mr Gay, a former head of finance, was given an OBE.

Serving as a councillor for 21 years, Coun Blake became executive member for the council’s Children’s Services department in 2010.

After being elected leader in 2015, she introduced 50/50 gender representation in her Cabinet.

Before leaving the council earlier this year, Mr Gay was the authority’s deputy chief executive,overseeing its annual budget and capital programme. For nearly 40 years, Mr Gay played a key role in supporting and financing some of the biggest events in the history of Leeds, including the Grand Depart of the Tour De France in 2014.

Council chief executive Tom Riordan said: “His innovation and imagination was often instrumental in helping us to make the best possible use of public money and making sure Leeds’s unprecedented economic success benefitted people living in all our communities.”

Leeds businessman Edward Ziff was named an OBE in the list for his services to the economy and community.

The chief executive of Town Centre Securities in Leeds city centre took over the business his father Arnold had founded in 2004.

Mr Ziff currently serves as chairman of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Foundation and works closely with the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board and The Grammar School at Leeds, of which he is a governor.

He said he was “thrilled to bits” over the accolade, and joked: “I don’t know when I will be down at the palace but given my name starts with Z the chances are I will be last.”

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