Long serving Leeds city councillor steps down after 25 years to pursue work in educational role
One of the city's longest serving councillors has confirmed his decision to step away from the authority to focus on education provision in the city.
As nominations for the council seats up for election next month have been published, one well known name is missing from the hundreds of names submitted.
Long-standing Cross Gates and Whinmoor Councillor Peter Gruen is not seeking re-election after 25 years of service.
Coun Gruen has served in many roles and on many committees and panels. He’s been the Labour Group’s Chief Whip, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Housing, Neighbourhoods and Planning. He has also chaired the Health Scrutiny Board and is currently on the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel.
However, he is also the chair of the Gorse Academies Trust and wants to focus on that work and what needs to be done to get education in the city back on track after the last year of lockdowns.
He says that being part of the campaign to bring council houses up to the Decency Standards is one of his greatest accomplishments as well as lobbying developers to put communities rather than cash at the heart of their developments.
"In my senior council roles I am most proud of bringing our council housing stock up to 98 per cent ‘decency standard’, attracting some £800m to do so. We also started the new era of building new council homes after decades of not being able to do so. In planning I have always believed that good decision making has to be close to local communities, be transparent and inclusive. Many developers come and go, but communities stay there long after the builders have left. We need to keep Leeds as the capital of the North with inspirational architecture, a strong economy, cultural diversity and good quality, affordable homes for all and lots of green spaces to be ourselves.
”Like most of us when you first join the council, you really don’t appreciate just what the role is and how much of your life it takes over. But you have to learn quickly. Leeds Council is so big and complex, with hundreds of services, thousands of officer contacts and never ending chase ups to get anything done.
"I always have in mind that behind every referral I make, is a human being or family, often desperate for my help, support and, in extreme cases, immediate action. Helping my constituents has been the most compelling reason for why I have wanted to do this job.”
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