Leeds council in turmoil

Leeds council in turmoil

Three Labour councillors have resigned in just eight days, citing a “toxic atmosphere”.

Crossgates councillor Janette Walker joined Garforth members Mark Dobson and Sarah Field in forming a new local independent party. This is the third councillor to quit Leeds City Council’s Labour government in eight days, suggesting the administration is in deep trouble.

Walker said she had no confidence in the Leeds party leadership to manage the nearly £500 million budget arguing that there is a “toxic atmosphere of mistrust, bullying, cronyism, whispers and unfairness endemic within the controlling elite of the Leeds Labour Group.

The council leadership has said that the claims of the three resigned councilors are “completely fanciful”. They’ve stated that Walker in particular is disgruntled due to disciplinary investigation she is facing over “inappropriate social media postings” and low attendance. Walker said she was being investigated for publicly criticising fellow councillors who had failed to pay their council tax which she criticised “not in keeping with the Labour values”.

Her resignation follows plans announced on Wednesday to increase taxes by 5% for families. Leader of the council Judith Blake criticised the government’s funding cuts on the city but stressed Leeds and the Labour administration was “strong and resilient in the face of huge pressure”.

The Tory leader in the council, Andrew Carter, joked that “we seem to be getting emails like confetti about defections from the Labour group”. Another Tory councillor John Procter added: “Labour in Leeds are divided. They haven’t got a clue what to do with a serious budget situation. They’re split, they are in turmoil and we all know it.”

Leeds University Labour society were asked about the accusations of bullying and the state of the council but Josh Molly, chairman, said they had “no comment to make”.

Christopher Tobin

(Image: Labour Party)

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