Full Council to debate Chamber of Commerce’s role in East Leeds regeneration board

The bizarre case of the local Chamber of Commerce’s involvement in the abortive setting up of a regeneration board for east Leeds is to be discussed at a full meeting of Leeds City Council on Wednesday 16th November.

A ‘white paper motion’ tabled by Conservative Councillor Andrew Carter calls on Council Chief Executive Tom Riordan to investigate what went on and come up with constitutional changes that would prevent anything similar happening again.

What’s the fuss about? Well, last month a Council report gave details of the Chamber’s involvement in the abortive setting up of a sub-board of the Council-led Leeds Initiative organisation. The sub-board was going to oversee the critical issues of housing and regeneration in east Leeds.

Private sector development

The report said that the Chamber:

* drew up a list of proposed members of the board, including local councillors and three of its own officers

* called a first meeting of the sub-board

* drew up the agenda and drafted all the papers for that meeting

* included on that agenda a presentation on the Chamber’s private-sector development initiative called New East Leeds (an initiative that the Council says it knew nothing about)

The Chamber later said that the Council report was “broadly incorrect” and promised a “full and correct version of events” at a meeting last week of a Council Scrutiny Board where the issue was supposed to be thrashed out.

Here at the leeds citizen we don’t know what went on at the meeting – the minutes are going to be published on Monday, 14th November.

“Might have compromised Council”

In the meantime, here’s Cllr Carter’s motion that’s being put to councillors a week today:

“This Council condemns the way in which responsibilities held by the Council regarding regeneration in East Leeds were proposed to be guided by a body with no democratic legitimacy. This Council believes such an unconstitutional move would have undermined transparency but also, by virtue of the body’s make up, held conflicting interests which might have compromised the Council’s legal position with regard to planning law.

“This Council calls on the Chief Executive of the Council to investigate the process which led to the formation of the East Leeds Housing and Regeneration Board and to provide a full report to Executive Board with recommendations for constitutional changes to prevent any similar activity occurring in the future.”

Worth noting en passant that the Council did rush to bolt the stable door just as the Chamber’s Trojan regeneration horse was bolting. New arrangements for the setting up of Leeds Initiative sub-boards were hastily drafted after the story broke.

But that didn’t stop concerns being raised at a meeting last week of the Council’s Executive over what went on in east Leeds. A new report has been ordered “in order to provide clarity on such matters”.

We look forward to it.

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