New faces at Leeds city council’s top table

New Leeds city council leader Judith Blake with deputies James Lewis and Lucinda Yeadon.' Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

New Leeds city council leader Judith Blake with deputies James Lewis and Lucinda Yeadon.' Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

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It’s all change at the top at Leeds City Council, after a cabinet reshuffle spurred by the election of a new leader of the chamber.

As reported by the YEP , councillor Judith Bake has been officially voted in as leader of the council, following her selection as leader of the ruling Labour group earlier this month after Keith Wakefield stepped down.

It has now emerged that Coun Blake’s tenure will usher in a new era - and a number of new faces in the council’s decision-making executive board.

Councillors Lucinda Yeadon and James Lewis have been named as deputy leaders. Coun Yeadon also takes over the children and families portfolio previously held by Coun Blake. Resources and strategy, a newly created brief, will be handled by Coun Lewis. As well as overall leadership duties, Coun Blake will hold the new economy and culture brief.

Newcomers Debra Coupar (Crossgates and Whinmoor) and Mohammed Rafique (Chapel Allerton) will hold the new communities portfolio and employment, enterprise and opportunity portfolio respectively.

Councillors Mark Dobson (environmental protection and community safety), Richard Lewis (regeneration, transport and planning) and Lisa Mulherin (health, wellbeing and adults) will retain their portfolios, albeit with additional responsibilities. But it means Labour’s cabinet stalwarts Peter Gruen - former housing and neighbourhoods boss as well as deputy leader - and Adam Ogilvie, who held the adult social care brief, lose their cabinet roles.

Councillor Blake said: “It is vital that we have a strong team who are committed to doing everything we can to support and protect the people who are in most need of our help – a team which will work hard to help our city to continue to grow and succeed and meet any challenges head-on.

“We will continue the fantastic work which has already begun to put Leeds firmly on the map, both nationally and internationally through events like the Tour De France Grand Départ, and the British Art Show later this year, as well as next year’s World Triathlon Series and of course our bid to be the European Capital of Culture 2023.

“However, we also have a very determined focus on working to create jobs and future opportunity, particularly for our young people. In attracting and creating work opportunities we also guarantee that the city itself is strong for the future.

“I intend to build on the exceptional work of my predecessor Coun Keith Wakefield and am very much looking forward to the challenges of leading such a large, vibrant and diverse city – we have a very bright and exciting future ahead of us.”

Councillor Judith Chapman was sworn in as the city’s New Lord Mayor earlier this week, becoming the first Jewish woman to hold the post.