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Council leader to step down after 25 years

Sir Richard Leese announced that he will be standing down as Leader of Manchester City Council after 25 years, he announced this week.

Sir Richard Leese announced that he will be standing down as Leader of Manchester City Council after 25 years, he announced this week.

Alongside Sir Howard Bernstein, Leese created the most successful provincial city in the UK, played a major part in establishing devolution through the ‘DevoManc’ deal, and delivered a catalogue of iconic regeneration projects and major Manchester sporting and cultural events.

DIB chief executive and Group chairman Frank McKenna commented:

“I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Richard since 1996, first when I was a politician, and then during the past twelve years, through Downtown.

“I admire many things about him – too many to list – but in particular his dismissal of gesture politics, his commitment to ‘Manchester’ Labour that meant his city was able to do business with governments of all colours, his disinterest in chasing media headlines, and his ability to recognise that to distribute wealth you have to create it, so genuine partnerships with the private sector were seen as an essential part of the Manchester journey. I have already asked him if he fancies a new challenge in Liverpool. I think I know the answer.”

Sir Richard will stand down as leader in December. DIB members will have an opportunity to say thank you and farewell at a special event that will be announced shortly.

Statement from Councillor Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council

“I have informed Manchester City Council’s Labour Group of my intention, after 25 years, to step down as Leader of the Council on December 1 this year. 

“This is an entirely personal decision reflecting my personal priorities for the next few years. I want this to be my decision, it had to happen at some time and this is as good a time as any. 

“My commitment to the city and the city region remains undiminished and I am confident that with a strong body of councillors determined to deliver the Our Manchester Strategy supported by an excellent political executive, a Strategic Management Team as good as it has ever been, thousands of great council workers, hundreds of enthusiastic partners and good potential candidates to take my place, the work will continue to enable Covid containment and recovery, and build a healthier, wealthier, happier, fairer and greener Manchester. 

“It has been an enormous privilege to serve the people of Manchester over this period of time and my heartfelt thanks goes to the thousands of people who have worked with us over the last 25 years.” 

Statement from Joanne Roney OBE, chief executive of Manchester City Council

“Sir Richard is a towering figure in the life of Manchester, which has been transformed during more than a quarter of a century of his leadership from a declining, post-industrial city to the fastest growing city in the UK which can face the future with confidence. 

“His leadership and consistent vision have been integral to that turnaround, guiding the city’s remarkable regeneration and playing a key role in devolution and the integration of health and social care. He has also helped lead the city through some difficult times, including the aftermath of the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack and most recently of course the challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“The strength of the foundations his drive and dedication have helped build over the decades mean that his legacy will endure – from the huge Victoria North development which is transforming the north of the city with much-needed housing and a new river side park – to the city’s commitment to tackling climate change to the improved Greater Manchester-wide health system, you don’t need to look very far to see his influence. We have long-term strategies in place, including the overarching Our Manchester Strategy, which set out a vision for the thriving, inclusive city we aim to be and how we get there, so that everybody has the chance to share in that success. 

“It has been a privilege to serve alongside Richard, and together with the rest of Manchester’s leadership team I look forward to continuing that work.” 

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