Keith Wakefield

Leader of Leeds City Council
In office
27 May 2010 – 21 May 2015
Preceded byAndrew Carter (Joint Leader)[1]
Succeeded byJudith Blake
In office
May 2003 – 28 June 2004
Preceded byBrian Walker
Succeeded byMark Harris (Joint Leader)
Leader of the Opposition on Leeds City Council
In office
28 June 2004 – 27 May 2010
Preceded byMark Harris
Succeeded byAndrew Carter
Leader of the Labour Party on Leeds City Council
In office
May 2003 – 11 May 2015
Preceded byBrian Walker
Succeeded byJudith Blake
Leeds City Councillor
for Kippax and Methley Ward
In office
Preceded byWard created
Succeeded byMirelle Midgley
Leeds City Councillor
for Barwick and Kippax Ward
In office
Preceded byFrank Flatters
Succeeded byWard abolished
Personal details
Born (1948-07-27) 27 July 1948 (age 72)
Herefordshire, England
Political partyLabour
ResidenceGarforth, West Yorkshire
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
University of Warwick
University of Huddersfield

Keith Ivor Wakefield OBE (formerly Sturgess; born 27 July 1948) is a British Labour politician and twice Leader of Leeds City Council from 2003 to 2004 and 2010 to 2015. He served as a councillor for 41 years between 1988 and 2019.[2][3][4]

Personal life

Wakefield was born on 27 July 1948 in Herefordshire. After separating from his father while Wakefield was an infant, his mother, Aileen Mable, was unable to manage his care as a single parent and Wakefield was raised in an orphanage in Birmingham. He was fostered at seven years old and moved to Leicester. He revealed in a 2013 profile by The Yorkshire Post he had suffered from neglect by his foster parents.

He left school at 14 with no qualifications, working in various blue-collar roles including in manufacturing. Wakefield studied as a mature student for various qualifications, including O-Levels and A-Levels. He later graduated from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Government, a Master's degree in Industrial Relations from the University of Warwick at the age of 30, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Holly Bank College of Education, today part of the University of Huddersfield. Wakefield then taught as a lecturer at Solihull College, Warrington Collegiate, The Open University and then Wakefield College from 1983 to 2003.

Wakefield has three children and been married and separated twice.[5][6]

He was awarded an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours.[7] He also received an honorary doctorate from Leeds Beckett University in July 2019 and, after his retirement from Leeds City Council, was created an honorary alderman of the City of Leeds in January 2020.[8][9]

Political career

Wakefield, then named Keith Sturgess, was first elected to Leeds City Council to represent the Barwick and Kippax ward in 1988. He had changed his surname to Wakefield when he ran for re-election in 1992 and served as a councillor for the ward for a total of 16 years. After his ward was abolished in a boundary review prior to the 2004 council election, Wakefield then represented the new ward of Kippax and Methley for 14 years before his retirement in 2019.

He also served as a Deputy Leader of the Council and majority Labour Party Group from 2001 to 2003.

Wakefield was later elected to as Leader of the Labour Group and Council Leader in May 2003. His predecessor, Brian Walker, had lost his council seat at the 2003 council election.[10]

In May 2004, Wakefield oversaw the loss of 12 of 52 Labour councillors in the full council election in 2004. Subsequently, with the loss of the Labour majority, Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors agreed a formal coalition to run the council. Wakefield continued to lead the Labour Group and became the Leader of the Opposition for the next six years.[11]

Following the 2010 council election, with the Labour Party two seats short of a majority, the two incumbent Green Party councillors officially supported the creation of a Labour minority administration, led by Wakefield, in a confidence-and-supply agreement.[12][13][14] It concluded when the Labour Party gained majority control of the council in 2011.[15][16]

Wakefield's second term as Council Leader included introducing and implementing multi-million pound council spending cuts resulting from the UK government's austerity programme, the construction of the First Direct Arena, and the selection of Leeds as the host city for the opening ceremony and Grand Départ of the 2014 Tour de France.[17][18]

On 29 April 2015, Wakefield announced his intention to stand down as Leader of the Labour Group and council after the May 2015 council election. Judith Blake, who had served as one of his two Deputy Leaders since 2010, was elected to lead the Labour Group on 11 May and as Council Leader on 21 May.[19][20][21][22]

He then chaired the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee from 2015 to 28 June 2018, having been a committee member since its creation in 2014. For his final year as a councillor, Wakefield held a junior position in the council administration as Deputy Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health & Training and Skills.[23][24]


  1. ^ "Leeds leads Westminster coalition". BBC News. 12 May 2010.
  2. ^ "Keith Ivor WAKEFIELD". Companies House. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  3. ^ "Keith Wakefield OBE". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  4. ^ Colin Rallings; Michael Thrasher. "Leeds City Council Election Results 1973-2012" (PDF). The Elections Centre. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Keith Wakefield: My story... the orphanage boy who slept rough and rose to be £2bn council chief". The Yorkshire Post. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  6. ^ "Keith Wakefield OBE". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  7. ^ "New Year honours 2016: the full list". The Guardian. 30 December 2015.
  8. ^ Bellamy, Alison (16 July 2019). "Former leader of Leeds City Council Keith Wakefield honoured by university". Yorkshire Evening Post.
  9. ^ "Nine former Leeds councillors to receive major honours". Yorkshire Evening Post. 12 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Labour's leader defeated". BBC News. 2 May 2003.
  11. ^ "Minutes Council (Annual) 28th June 2004" (PDF). Leeds City Council. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  12. ^ Baron, John (18 May 2010). "Green party holds sway on Leeds council - but who are they?". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "Leeds City Council under minority Labour leadership". BBC News. 27 May 2010.
  14. ^ "Leeds City Council local election: Results in full". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Leeds local election 2011: Results in full". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
  17. ^ Bellamy, Alison (16 July 2019). "Former leader of Leeds City Council Keith Wakefield honoured by university". Yorkshire Evening Post.
  18. ^ "From sit ins to trolleybuses - a decade in the political life of Leeds". Yorkshire Evening Post. 1 January 2020.
  19. ^ "Keith Wakefield to step down as Leeds Council leader". ITV News Calendar. 29 April 2015.
  20. ^ Kilgannon, Laurence (29 April 2015). "Leeds Council Leader Wakefield to step down". Insider Media.
  21. ^ "Leeds City Council Elects Judith Blake as First Female Leader". BBC News. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  22. ^ "Councillor Judith Blake "Honoured" to be Leeds' First Ever Female Council Leader". Yorkshire Evening Post. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Wakefield steps down as Transport Commitee [sic] Chair". West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  24. ^ Ross, Alex (26 May 2018). "Transport chairman to step down". Telegraph and Argus. Retrieved 3 August 2020.