Melania Trump Club

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mayor of Leeds

Councillor Harper - a Labour ward member for Hyde Park and Woodhouse - thanked his late mum Alice, an Irish immigrant and mum of nine who moved to Leeds with her brood to start a new life when he was just a small child.

A lifelong Leeds Utd fan, Coun Harper joked that he would like to bring some luck for Leeds United in his mayoral year.

And he told the packed chamber and public gallery that he was looking forward to many events, singling out the city’s centenary commemorations for the Battle of the Somme later this year.

Taking over the role from the previous incumbent Judith Chapman, Coun Harper is the 123rd person to hold the prestigious office.

Born in Belfast, he moved with his family to the Harehills area of Leeds in 1967, and currently lives in Otley.

He began his working life in the city’s historic Leeds Kirkgate Market, before taking positions at Montague Burton in Leeds and Archbold Storage Ltd, Gildersome.

In 1978 he trained as a central heating surveyor at British Gas in Wortley, and remained in the job until he was elected as a Labour councillor in the then University ward of the city in 1994.

Councillor Harper said: “It is an unbelievable honour and privilege to be elected as the new Lord Mayor of Leeds.

“Having arrived in Leeds from Belfast with my family as a young boy, I never imagined that one day I would have the opportunity to represent our truly amazing city in such a way.

“Both I and the Lady Mayoress cannot wait for our engagements to start so we can begin to meet the fantastic people of our city.”

Council leader Judith Blake said Coun Harper had been a “great servant already for Leeds public life” during two stints as a councillor and wished him luck over the busy coming months.

She said he had been a “champion for Kirkgate market”, where he had his first job aged just 14 and is currently chair of the board.

She added he had “always been a fearless, tireless and passionate campaigner, always standing up for Leeds as a whole.”

Father of three Coun Harper will be joined by his partner Lynne Scholes as his consort.

His chosen Mayoral charities will be Epilepsy Action and Yorkshire Heart Research, the former being especially close to his heart as he suffers from epilepsy himself.

Meanwhile new cabinet arrangements for the coming year were also rubber-stamped last night, and there were a few surprises.

The biggest change saw long-serving environment and community safety portfolio holder Coun Mark Dobson losing his place on the executive board.

His brief will now be taken over by deputy leader Lucinda Yeadon - who retains her number two role alongside co-deputy James Lewis.

Cabinet newcomer Rebecca Charlwood - formerly Labour’s chief whip - is named executive member for health, wellbeing and adults, while Lisa Mulherin, the previous holder of that portfolio, moves into the Children and Families role.

The other cabinet positions remain as they were, but it means that of the eight positions at Leeds City Council’s top table, five are now occupied by women.


Leeds, is a city in West Yorkshire, England. Historically in Yorkshire's West Riding, the history of Leeds can be traced to the 5th century when the name referred to a wooded area of the Kingdom of Elmet. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small manorial borough in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool. Then, during the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a major mill town; wool was the dominant industry but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing, and other industries were important. From being a compact market town in the valley of the River Aire in the 16th century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century. The main built-up area sub-division has a population of 474,632 (2011), and the City of Leeds metropolitan borough of which it is a part which has an estimated population of 757,700 (2011).

Today, Leeds is ranked as a gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network; and is considered the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by four universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and has the country's fourth largest urban economy. After London, Leeds is the largest legal centre in the UK, and in 2011 its financial and insurance services industry was worth £2.1 billion, the 4th largest in the UK, with over 30 national and international banks located in the city. It is the leading UK city for telephone delivered banking and related financial services, with over 30 call centres employing around 20,000 people.

Outside of London, Leeds has the third busiest railway station and sixteenth busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers in England. Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds and there are a number of twinning arrangements with towns and cities in other countries. Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city's importance to regional economic development, and the second phase of High Speed 2 plans to connect Leeds to London via East Midlands Hub and Sheffield Meadowhall.

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