Praise is pouring in as Tom Riordan announces he is leaving Leeds City Council

Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan has today announced his intention to leave at the end of the year to explore new opportunities.

As one of the UK’s longest-serving local government chiefs, he has made a big impact in Leeds during his 14 years at the helm, working alongside council leaders and other senior politicians to achieve its best ambitions city ​​and the best councils. He was awarded the CBE for services to local government in the 2020 New Year Honours.

Leeds city development director Martin Farrington announced in February that he would stand down in September.

Riordan said: “After 14 of the happiest years, I’ve decided the time is right to move on. I have really enjoyed being Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, working with the best people in the best city.

“We have established a collaborative Team Leeds culture that delivers, working together with our partners to ensure we have a city that regenerates and grows sustainably.

“A generation of children is growing up supported by outstanding services, vulnerable people are supported wherever possible and older people are helped to live independent and fulfilling lives in a city admired for what it does and how it works.

“This has been the most difficult decision, but the time is right to give someone else the chance to do one of the best jobs in the country.”

Leeds City Council Leader Councilor James Lewis said: “Tom is an outstanding chief executive and public servant who has worked tirelessly alongside politicians, officers and senior partners over many years with an unwavering determination to to achieve the best for Leeds.

“We faced many challenges, not least financially. His contribution has been invaluable in helping us deliver much-appreciated council services as we build stronger communities where people are supported for better lives and outcomes.

“During our time with us, we have also attracted major investment, high-profile events and made great strides in building social housing and infrastructure to support communities for the future.”

Leeds business leaders added to their praise when Roirdan announced his departure on LinkedIn.

Chris Black, chairman of Leeds Chambers of Commerce, said: “Tom – I’m personally very sorry to hear this, you and your team have done wonders for this fantastic city.”

Sinéad Rocks, Managing Director of Nations and Regions at Channel 4, said: “It was an absolute pleasure working with you. You will be missed.”

Leeds Digital Festival founder Stuart Clarke MBE thanked Riordan for his support, adding: “You have made a huge contribution to the success of the city and changed it for the better.”

Anna Sutton, co-founder of The Data Refinery, wrote: “I don’t know what to say about this news Tom – you were so excellent in this role and Leeds were very lucky to have you in it for such a role. long period of time. You have been a great advocate and supporter of the technology sector and we will miss you.”

Steph Taylor, chief executive of Leeds Community Foundation, said: “What a legacy of achievement, partnership and above all, compassionate leadership. I’m sorry we don’t get to work together anymore, but thank you for all you’ve done and will continue to do for our incredible city.”

Since moving to Leeds City Council in 2010, Tom has been passionate about working alongside political leadership to extend the council’s impact across the city and region, whilst supporting vulnerable people and frontline services.

During this time the council was involved in attracting Channel 4, Burberry, the Bank of England and the UK Infrastructure Bank to the city, along with international events such as the Tour de France Grand Départ. He built the first direct Arena, greatly expanded the city center along the South Bank and worked to facilitate the opening of Trinity Leeds and Victoria Gate shopping centres.

While leveraging its traditionally strong financial sector, the council has also supported the growth of new digital, technology and innovation-driven sectors. Leeds is rated as a global leader in both climate action and health innovation and was recently ranked by the Sunday Times as the best place to live in the North.

The council has invested heavily in communities with an ongoing program of building social housing, along with infrastructure to support the development of the city, such as the East Leeds Orbital Route. The community focus also means they work directly in districts to support improved outcomes for the most vulnerable.

Leeds City Council’s children’s services have again been rated as outstanding by Ofsted in 2022 and the council is developing its Age Friendly Leeds approach to complement the successful Leeds Friendly Child programme.

Riordan added: “This is an exceptional council with so many talented and hard-working people dedicated to doing everything they can for the city and its people. It has been a privilege to be in a role where there are real opportunities to make a real difference to people’s lives.

“Having been in care myself and having lived with mental health issues in my family, I was determined to build a culture that judges people by what they do and treats them with respect and kindness, where everyone feels valued for what they are it’s also what they bring to the team.

“While we have many challenges, in common with all councils, Leeds is in as good a place as possible to address them. There is also a generation of bright and diverse leaders emerging from the communities and in business, public life and the arts that make me extremely optimistic for the future of the city.”

A recruitment process will begin shortly to find Tom’s successor.

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