Labour leader says party is strong going forward in Leeds

NEW FACES: City Council Leader Coun Judith Blake welcomes Middleton Park councillors Kim Groves and Paul Truswell.
NEW FACES: City Council Leader Coun Judith Blake welcomes Middleton Park councillors Kim Groves and Paul Truswell.
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“We are in a strong position to take the agenda forward.”

That is the defiant message from the re-elected leader of the city council, Coun Judith Blake.

In an exclusive interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post as she was voted in again by colleagues to be the leader of the Leeds Labour Party at a meeting last night she said: “We are very pleased.

“We had a strong showing and it is a strong position to take the agenda forward.”

At the all out elections last week the Labour party gained three seats taking its number of representatives across the city to 61, up from 58.

The Conservatives took 22 seats, up from 19 while the Lib Dems dropped from nine to six seats.

However, the party lost veteran councillor Mick Coulson in the Pudsey ward and lost out to the Lib Dem candidates in the Rothwell ward but saw success in Farnley, Weetwood and Calverley wards.

Reflecting on those results, Coun Blake said the party will focus efforts on those wards and look into why the party message wasn’t appealing - but added the new members would bring fresh ideas to the town hall.

She said: “We are never complacent and where we have not done as well as we would have liked we will be looking very carefully at the message that we put out and how we failed to make connections.

“We will do what we always do, go out and talk to people and find out what it was that meant they did not give us their support.

“We have got some great new talent and I am really looking forward to working with them. They are coming to make a difference in their communties and I am really excited by that.”

Another area for analysis is set to be the collapse of the UKIP presence in the city and the implications of the Brexit deal at local level.

But beyond that, Coun Blake said the city is well placed to continue to make its mark on the world stage through sporting and cultural events.

She said: “I feel very strongly that Leeds was a sleeping giant.

“We knew we were strong but needed to tell the story and showcase the city.”

HOW THE CITY COUNCIL SHAPES UP

The local elections in Leeds saw 33 wards contested and three councillors elected per ward. The new make-up is as follows:

Labour: 61 seats (up from 58)

Conservative: 22 seats (up from 19)

Lib Dem: 6 seats (down from 9)

Independents and others: Morley Borough Independents: 5 seats (no change); Garforth and Swillington Independents Party: 3 seats (up from 2); Green: 2 seats (down from 3)