Leeds City Council
Council logo
Al Garthwaite,
since 24 May 2023
James Lewis,
since 24 February 2021
Tom Riordan
since August 2010
Seats99 councillors
Political groups
Administration (61)
  Labour (61)
Other parties (38)
  Conservative (18)
  Liberal Democrats (6)
  Morley Borough Ind. (6)
  Garforth & Swillington Ind. (3)
  Green (3)
  SDP (2)
Joint committees
West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Length of term
4 years
Multiple member first-past-the-post
Last election
4 May 2023
Next election
2 May 2024
Meeting place
Civic Hall, Calverley Street, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Leeds City Council is the local authority of the City of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England. It is a metropolitan district council, one of five in West Yorkshire and one of 36 in the metropolitan counties of England, and provides the majority of local government services in Leeds. It has the second-largest population of any council in the United Kingdom with approximately 800,000 inhabitants living within its area; only Birmingham City Council has more. Since 1 April 2014, it has been a constituent council of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.


Leeds Corporation

Leeds (often spelt Leedes) was a manor and then a town, receiving a charter from King Charles I as a 'Free Borough' in 1626 giving it powers of self-government, leading to the formation of the Leeds Corporation to administer it.[1][2] The leader was initially an alderman, the first holder being Sir John Savile.[3] A second charter, in 1661 from King Charles II, granted the title of mayor to Thomas Danby,[3]

Leeds was reformed in 1836 to become a municipal borough under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, which standardised how most boroughs were governed across the country. The ruling body was then formally called the "mayor, aldermen and burgesses of the borough of Leeds", generally known as the corporation or town council.[4][1] When elected county councils were created in 1889 Leeds was considered large enough to provide its own county-level services and so it became a county borough, independent from the new West Riding County Council. Leeds became a city in 1893, after which the corporation was also known as the city council. In 1897 the mayoralty was raised to a Lord Mayor.

Leeds City Council

The modern city council was established in 1974, with the first elections being held in advance in 1973. Under the Local Government Act 1972, the area of the County Borough of Leeds was combined with those of the Municipal Borough of Morley, the Municipal Borough of Pudsey, Aireborough Urban District, Horsforth Urban District, Otley Urban District, Garforth Urban District, Rothwell Urban District and parts of Tadcaster Rural District, Wetherby Rural District and Wharfedale Rural District from the West Riding. The new Leeds district was one of five metropolitan districts in West Yorkshire. It was granted a borough and city status to become the City of Leeds.

Until 1986 the city council was a second-tier authority, with West Yorkshire County Council providing many key services. However, the metropolitan county councils were abolished under the Local Government Act 1985 and the council took responsibility for all former County Council functions except policing, fire services and public transport which continue to be run on a joint basis by councillors from the former boroughs of West Yorkshire County Council.

Council services

Leeds City Council is responsible for providing all statutory local authority services in Leeds, except for those it provides jointly in conjunction with other West Yorkshire Authorities. This includes education, housing, planning, transport and highways, social services, libraries, leisure and recreation, waste collection, waste disposal, environmental health and revenue collection. The council is one of the largest employers in West Yorkshire, with around 33,000 employees.[5]

Education Leeds

Education Leeds was set up in 2001 as a non-profit making company wholly owned by Leeds City Council to provide education support services for the council.[6] For its first five years it operated as a public-private partnership between the Council and Capita. The senior councillors of the council's executive board voted in March 2010 to stop using Education Leeds to provide services from 31 March 2011,[7] thereby effectively causing it to cease operation.


Until 1 October 2013, Leeds City Council's housing stock was managed and operated by three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs) since 2007. They were wholly owned by the council but operated as autonomous and self-governing organisations. The ALMOs, which are arranged on a regional basis were:

As of 1 October 2013, the ALMOs returned to Leeds City Council and all management of council housing stock became the responsibility of Housing Leeds. At this point, the ALMOs ceased to exist.

Management of more than 2000 homes in Belle Isle is carried out by Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation, the largest tenant management organisation in the UK outside London.[11]

Leeds Museums & Galleries

Main article: Leeds Museums & Galleries

Leeds Museums & Galleries is a museum service run by Leeds City Council.[12]

Established in 1821, it is the largest local authority-run museum service in England, with one of the larger and more significant multidisciplinary collections in the UK, looking after 1.3 million objects.[13] The service is run and primarily funded by Leeds City Council (LCC), and plays a significant role in shaping the cultural life of the city, but as a leading museum service it has a regional and national reputation and role. In 2012 the organisation achieved Major Partner Museum status from Arts Council England, which brought significant additional funding and further national prominence and expectation.[14]

The service has at times run major events across the city, with visitors numbering in the millions, such as the 2014-19 Legacies of War Project, which examined how Leeds was affected by the First World War,[15] and developed teaching materials for schools.[16]

Leeds Museums & Galleries is made up of nine different sites: Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds City Museum, Kirkstall Abbey, Abbey House Museum, Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, Thwaite Mills, Lotherton Hall, Temple Newsam and Leeds Discovery Centre.

Waste disposal and recycling

The city operates waste disposal and recycling facilities in Kirkstall, Meanwood, Middleton, Otley, Pudsey, Seacroft, Wetherby (Thorp Arch) and Yeadon.[17]

West Yorkshire Joint Services

Main article: West Yorkshire Joint Services

West Yorkshire Joint Services provides services for the five district local authorities in West Yorkshire (Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield) in the areas of archaeology, archives, ecology, materials testing, public analyst, and trading standards.[18]

Council structures

Overview and scrutiny

The executive and workings of the council are overseen by six scrutiny boards. These panels involve councillors from all parties and some independent members. Scrutiny boards are able to review decisions taken by the executive or by officers of the council and to refer them for further consideration.


The licensing committee of the council is drawn from councillors from all parties and is responsible for entertainment, refreshment, personal and premises licences established under the Licensing Act 2003. Three plans panels are responsible for determining planning applications which have not been delegated to officers for decision, such as large or controversial applications or those in which a councillor or officer has a personal interest.

Community committees

Ten community committees are responsible for managing certain area-specific budgets and responsibilities, such as community centres and CCTV, in partnership with local communities. Committees also exert considerable influence over other areas of local interest such as street-cleansing and community policing.

Lord Mayor of Leeds

Main article: Lord Mayor of Leeds

The Lord Mayor of Leeds is a ceremonial, non-partisan position elected annually by and from the councillors. As well as acting as the chair of the council, the Lord Mayor represents the City of Leeds at events within and outside the city.[19]

The first Mayor of Leeds was Thomas Danby in 1661, and the first Lord Mayor was James Kitson in 1897.[20]

During the mayoral year, the Lord Mayor's Charity Appeal raises funds for one or more charities of the mayor's choice.


The council operates a Leader and Cabinet executive as defined under Section 11 of the Local Government Act 2000. The executive board of the council currently consists of nine executive members with portfolio responsibilities from the ruling Labour group, and the leader of the biggest opposition group (Conservative).[21]

Since February 2021, the Leader of the council has been James Lewis (Labour). He succeeded Judith Blake, the first woman ever to lead the council.[22][23]

Current council leadership
Portfolio Councillor (electoral ward) Term
Ceremonial leadership
The 129th Lord Mayor of Leeds (2023–2024)
First citizen of the City of Leeds
Al Garthwaite (Headingley and Hyde Park)[24]
Vice-chair of the council (2023–2024) Jane Dowson (Chapel Allerton)[25] 2023–present
Executive leadership[26]
Leader of the Council
Leader of the Labour Group
James Lewis (Kippax and Methley)[27] 2021–present
Deputy Leader of the Council
Executive Member for Resources
Debra Coupar (Temple Newsam)[28] 2018–present[29]
Deputy Leader of the Council
Executive Member for Economy, Culture and Education
Jonathan Pryor (Headingley and Hyde Park)[30] 2021–present
Executive Member for Children's Social Care and Health Partnerships[a] Fiona Venner (Kirkstall)[31] 2019–present[32]
Executive Member for Communities Mary Harland (Kippax and Methley)[33] 2021–present
Executive Member for Climate, Energy, Environment and Green Space[b] Mohammed Rafique (Chapel Allerton)[34] 2017–present
Executive Member for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure[c] Helen Hayden (Temple Newsam)[35]
Executive Member for Adult Social Care, Public Health and Active Lifestyles[d] Salma Arif (Gipton and Harehills)[36] 2021–present[37]
Executive Member for Housing Jessica Lennox (Cross Gates and Whinmoor)[38] 2023–present
Chief Whip of the Council Emma Flint (Weetwood)[39] 2023–present
Opposition leadership
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Group
Alan Lamb (Wetherby)[40]
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Stewart Golton (Rothwell)[41] 2010–present[42]
Leader of the Morley Borough Independents Group Robert Finnigan (Morley North)[43] 2019–present
Leader of the Garforth and Swillington Independents Group Mark Dobson (Garforth and Swillington)[44] 2017–present[45]
Leader of the Green Group David Blackburn (Farnley and Wortley)[46] 2013–present[47]
Leader of the SDP Group Wayne Dixon (Middleton Park)[48] 2023–present

Leaders and political control since 1945

City of Leeds (County Borough) Council until 31 March 1974
Leader Years Political Control
Unknown 19451947 Labour
19471949 Conservative
19491951 Labour
19511952 Conservative
19521967 Labour
Frank Marshall 19671972 Conservative
Albert King 1972–1974 No Overall Control:
Labour minority administration
Leeds Metropolitan District Council from 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972
Leader Years Political Control
Albert King 1974–1975 No Overall Control:
Labour minority,
then Conservative minority
Irwin Bellow 19751976
1976–1979 Conservative
Peter Sparling 1979–1980 No Overall Control:
Conservative minority
George Mudie 1980–1989 Labour
Jon Trickett 1989–1996
Brian Walker 1996–2003
Keith Wakefield 20032004
Mark Harris (Joint Leader) 2004–November 2007[e] No Overall Control:
Liberal Democrat and Conservative coalition,
then Labour minority
Andrew Carter (Joint Leader)
December 2007–2010[f]
Richard Brett (Joint Leader)
Keith Wakefield 20102011
2011–2015 Labour
Judith Blake 2015–2021
James Lewis 2021–present

Elected Mayor

Main article: 2012 English mayoral referendums

On 3 May 2012 a referendum was held to determine whether or not to replace the current leadership arrangements with a directly elected mayor.

The question that was asked in the referendum was set by central government, and was:[49]

How would you like Leeds City Council to be run?
  • By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.
  • By a mayor who is elected by voters. This would be a change from how the council is run now.

The proposal for an elected mayor was opposed by the leaders of the four largest groups on the council. It was supported by Leeds Conservative MPs Stuart Andrew (Pudsey) and Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell).

The referendum results showed a rejection of the proposal for a directly elected mayor, with 63% (107,910) voting to keep the status quo.[50]

Political composition

Main article: Leeds local elections

The council is composed of 99 councillors, three for each of the city's electoral wards.

One councillor for each ward – a third of all of the total councillors – is elected at every council election, which are held in three of every four years. Each councillor is also elected to serve a four-year term. This only differs following a boundary review, where all council seats must be re-elected. The most recent full council elections were in 1980, 2004 and 2018. The latter election saw all three ward council seats up for re-election, with each of the three successful candidates in each ward awarded a unique one, two or four-year term respectively with longer terms given to the candidates with the highest number of votes.[51]

Since the 2011 council election, the council has been run by a Labour majority administration. Between the 2004 and 2011 elections, the council's political composition meant no one party had a full majority and therefore there was no overall control. During this time, a coalition administration between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was formally agreed. Throughout the coalition, both parties' Group Leaders jointly shared the office of Leader of the council, each holding it for six months in turn. However, in 2010, the Labour Group regained control as a minority administration with the support of the two Green Party councillors.[52][53][54]

Year Labour Liberal Democrats Conservative Morley Borough Independents Others
2023 61 6 18 6 8
2022 58 7 21 6 7
2021 54 8 24 6 7
2019 57 8 23 5 6
2018 61 6 22 5 5
2016 63 9 19 5 3
2015 63 9 19 5 3
2014 63 9 18 5 4
2012 63 10 19 5 2
2011[55] 55 16 21 5 2
2010 48 21 22 6 2
2008[56] 43 24 22 5 5
2007[57] 43 24 22 5 5
2006[58] 40 26 24 5 4
2004 40 26 24 6 3
2003 52 22 20 0 5
2002 57 20 18 0 4
2000 61 19 16 0 3
1999 71 14 12 0 2
1998 80 9 9 0 1

Electoral wards

Leeds City Council's 33 electoral wards have been fully reviewed twice since 2000, once before the 2004 council election and again before the 2018 council election.

Beforehand, the ward boundaries had not been amended since the last review in 1979. The 1979 review increased the number of wards in Leeds from 32 to 33, thereby increasing the number of councillors from 96 to 99. The 1980 council election was the first to be contested based on the new ward boundaries across the city, and therefore it was a full council, all-out election where all of the 99 council seats were up for election.

The boundary review between February 2002 and July 2003 was completed by the Boundary Committee for England.[59] The review recommended the retention of 99 councillors representing 33 wards across the city, but suggested substantial alterations to ward boundaries to reduce the level of variance between different wards. Prior to the boundary review, based on the 2001 electorate, the largest and smallest wards respectively were Morley South (22,167 electors) and Hunslet (10,955 electors). Following the review all wards had an electorate within 10% of the average of all 33 wards across the city.[60]

A similar process was completed in November 2017 by the Boundary Committee's successor, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. The process had held consultations since July 2016. The biggest ward boundary changes saw the creation of two new wards in Headingley & Hyde Park and Little London and Woodhouse from the previous Hyde Park & Woodhouse and Headingley wards. City & Hunslet also became Hunslet & Riverside.[61] Following the example of previous reviews, all of the city's councillors were re-elected together again based on the new ward boundaries in May 2018.

Parliamentary constituency Ward Councillor First elected Term of office
Elmet and Rothwell Garforth and Swillington Mark Dobson (GSI) 2007 2022–2026
Sarah Field (GSI) 2016 20212024
Suzanne McCormack (GSI) 2018 2023–2027
(shared with Leeds East)
Sam Firth (Con) 2018 20212024
Matthew Robinson (Con) 2010 2022–2026
Ryan Stephenson (Con) 2016 2023–2027
Kippax and Methley Mary Harland (Lab) 2012 2022–2026
James Lewis (Lab) 2003[g] 20212024
Michael Millar (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Rothwell Diane Chapman (LD) 2019 2023–2027
Stewart Golton (LD) 1998[h] 2022–2026
Conrad Hart-Brooke (LD) 2021 20212024
Wetherby Norma Harrington (Con) 2018 2022–2026
Alan Lamb (Con) 2007 20212024
Penny Stables (Green) 2023 2023–2027
Leeds Central Beeston and Holbeck Gohar Almass (Lab) 2018 20212024
Annie Maloney (Lab) 2022 2022–2026
Andrew Scopes (Lab) 2018 2023–2027
Burmantofts and Richmond Hill Luke Farley (Lab) 2022 2022–2026
Asghar Khan (Lab) 2011 20212024
Nkele Manaka (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Little London and Woodhouse
(shared with Leeds North West)
Javaid Akhtar (Lab) 2000, 2010[i] 20212024
Kayleigh Brooks (Lab) 2018 2022–2026
Abigail Marshall Katung (Lab) 2019 2023–2027
Hunslet and Riverside Ed Carlisle (Green) 2022 2022–2026
Mohammed Iqbal (Lab) 1999[j] 20212024
Paul Wray (Lab) 2018 2023–2027
Middleton Park Sharon Burke (Lab) 2021 20212024
Wayne Dixon (SDP) 2022 2022–2026
Emma Pogson-Golden (SDP) 2023 2023–2027
Leeds East Cross Gates and Whinmoor James Gibson (Lab) 2018, 2021[k] 20212024
Pauleen Grahame (Lab) 2002[l] 2022–2026
Jessica Lennox (Lab) 2018 2023–2027
Gipton and Harehills Salma Arif (Lab) 2016 2022–2026
Arif Hussain (Lab) 2007 20212024
Asghar Ali (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Killingbeck and Seacroft Katie Dye (Lab) 2018 2023–2027
David Jenkins (Lab) 2018 20212024
John Tudor (Lab) 2022 2022–2026
Temple Newsam
(shared with Elmet and Rothwell)
Debra Coupar (Lab) 2003, 2006, 2013[m] 2022–2026
Helen Hayden (Lab) 2015 20212024
Nicole Sharpe (Lab) 2019 2023–2027
Leeds North East Alwoodley Neil Buckley (Con) 2012 20212024
Dan Cohen (Con) 2011 2022–2026
Lyn Buckley (Con) 2023 2023–2027
Chapel Allerton Jane Dowson (Lab) 2004 2023–2027
Mohammed Rafique (Lab) 2004 20212024
Eileen Taylor (Lab) 2008 2022–2026
Moortown Mahalia France-Mir (Lab) 2022 2022–2026
Sharon Hamilton (Lab) 2004, 2010[n] 20212024
Mohammed Shahzad (Lab) 2018 2023–2027
Roundhay Jordan Bowden (Lab) 2022 2023–2027
Zara Hussain (Lab) 2021 2022–2026
Lisa Martin (Lab) 2021 20212024
Leeds North West Adel and Wharfedale
(shared with Leeds North East)
Barry Anderson (Con) 1999[o] 2022–2026
Caroline Anderson (Con) 2015 20212024
Billy Flynn (Con) 2016 2023–2027
Headingley and Hyde Park
(shared with Leeds Central)
Al Garthwaite (Lab) 2016[p] 20212024
Jonathan Pryor (Lab) 2014[q] 2022–2026
Abdul Hannan (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Otley and Yeadon
(shared with Pudsey)
Colin Campbell (LD) 1982, 2004[r] 2022–2026
Ryk Downes (LD) 2004 2023–2027
Sandy Lay (LD) 2012 20212024
(shared with Leeds North East)
Emma Flint (Lab) 2021 20212024
Jools Heselwood (Lab) 2015 2023–2027
Izaak Wilson (Lab) 2022 2022–2026
Leeds West Armley Andy Parnham (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
James McKenna (Lab) 1988 20212024
Alice Smart (Lab) 2014 2022–2026
Bramley and Stanningley Caroline Gruen (Lab) 2012 20212024
Tom Hinchcliffe (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Kevin Ritchie (Lab) 2014 2022–2026
Farnley and Wortley
(shared with Leeds Central)
David Blackburn (Green) 1998[s] 20212024
Mark Sewards (Lab) 2022 2022–2026
Adrian McCluskey (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Kirkstall Hannah Bithell (Lab) 2018 2022–2026
Andy Rontree (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Fiona Venner (Lab) 2014 20212024
Morley and Outwood Ardsley and Robin Hood
(shared with Leeds Central)
Mike Foster (Con) 2021 20212024
Stephen Holroyd-Case (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Karen Renshaw (Lab) 2004 2022–2026
Morley North
(shared with Leeds West)
Robert Finnigan (MBI) 1995, 2002, 2019[t] 2023–2027
Bob Gettings (MBI) 2007 2022–2026
Andrew Hutchison (MBI) 2018 20212024
Morley South Wyn Kidger (MBI) 2018 2023–2027
Oliver Newton (MBI) 2022 2022–2026
Jane Senior (MBI) 2021 20212024
Pudsey Calverley and Farsley
(shared with Leeds West)
Peter Carlill (Lab) 2018 2023–2027
Amanda Carter (Con) 1999, 2015[u] 20212024
Andrew Carter (Con) 1973[v] 2022–2026
Guiseley and Rawdon Paul Alderson (Con) 2021 20212024
Eleanor Thomson (Lab) 2022 2022–2026
Oliver Edwards (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Horsforth Emmie Bromley (Lab) 2022 2022–2026
John Garvani (Lab) 2022 20222024
Raymond Jones (Lab) 2023 2023–2027
Pudsey Dawn Seary (Con) 2021 20212024
Simon Seary (Con) 2018 2022–2026
Trish Smith (Con) 2019 2023–2027


In September 2012 the council announced its intention to introduce a bring your own device policy as part of cost saving measures.[62] In the same year, the council was fined £95,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after it sent confidential and sensitive information about a child in care to the wrong recipient. Commenting on Leeds and other authorities who had made similar data protection breaches, the ICO said "It would be far too easy to consider these breaches as simple human error. The reality is that they are caused by councils treating sensitive personal data in the same routine way they would deal with more general correspondence. Far too often in these cases, the councils do not appear to have acknowledged that the data they are handling is about real people, and often the more vulnerable members of society."[63]


  1. ^ Executive Member for Children and Families (2019–2021)
  2. ^ Executive Member for Environment and Active Lifestyles (2017–2021)
  3. ^ Executive Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainable Development (2021)
  4. ^ Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing (2021)
  5. ^ Under the terms of the coalition agreement between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives from May 2004, the full-time post of Leader of the Council swapped between the leaders of the two parties' council groupings every six months:
    • Mark Harris (Liberal Democrats) from 28 June to 30 November 2004, 24 May to 30 November 2005, 23 May to 30 November 2006, 24 May to 30 November 2007, and
    • Andrew Carter (Conservatives) from 1 December 2004 to 23 May 2005, 1 December 2005 to 22 May 2006, 1 December 2006 to 24 May 2007.
  6. ^ Richard Brett was elected to replace Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Leeds City Council after Harris stepped down on 30 November 2007. Under the terms of the coalition agreement between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives from May 2004, the full-time post of Leader of the Council swapped between the leaders of the two parties' council groupings every six months:
    • Andrew Carter (Conservatives) from 1 December 2007 to 22 May 2008, 1 December 2008 to 21 May 2009, 1 December 2009 to 27 May 2010, and
    • Brett (Liberal Democrats) from 22 May to 30 November 2008, 21 May to 30 November 2009.
  7. ^ Barwick and Kippax (20032004)
  8. ^ Weetwood (19982006)
  9. ^ Harehills (20002004), Gipton and Harehills (20042007), Hyde Park and Woodhouse (20102018)
  10. ^ City and Holbeck (19992004), City and Hunslet (20042018)
  11. ^ Weetwood (20182019)
  12. ^ Whinmoor (20022004)
  13. ^ Morley South (20032004), Middleton Park (20062010), Cross Gates and Whinmoor (20132016)
  14. ^ Chapel Allerton (20042008)
  15. ^ Cookridge (19992004)
  16. ^ Headingley (20162018)
  17. ^ Headingley (20142018)
  18. ^ Otley and Wharfedale (19821998)
  19. ^ Wortley (19982004)
  20. ^ Middleton (19951999)
  21. ^ Pudsey North (19992004)
  22. ^ Pudsey North (19732004)


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