Leeds council chief exec resigns from Chamber as bizarre row rumbles on

Chief Executive of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan has resigned his role as a director of the local chamber of commerce “because of a potential conflict of interest”.

The non-announcement came buried in the minutes of a Council meeting held to try and get to the bottom of a bizarre sequence of events that has put a strain on relations between the Chamber and the Council in recent weeks.

Mr Riordan was appointed to the board of directors of the Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce shortly after taking up his post as chief executive at the council in autumn 2010.

Also appointed to the board at the same time were council leader Keith Wakefield and Director of Ove Arup Nigel Foster. Mr Foster has gone on to become the Chamber’s President.

It wasn’t clear from the report why this “potential conflict of interest” has suddenly arisen well over a year after Mr Riordan joined the Chamber’s board, nor whether Cllr Wakefield faces a similar conflict.

Relations between the Council and the Chamber have been strained recently over the Chamber’s role in the abortive setting up of what should have been a Council-led committee to oversee regeneration in east Leeds.

Obfuscation

It was thought that last month’s meeting – attended by Chamber top brass – was going to finally establish what actually happened, but judging from the minutes released today, they’re all having difficulty getting the Signal back into the toothpaste tube with the stripes intact.

What they’re trying to establish is: who proposed a make-up of the east Leeds regeneration board that included three officers of the Chamber?; who drafted the board’s terms of reference?; who wrote a report for the meeting on the Chamber’s private-sector development initiative, the New East Leeds company?; and how did the paper work for the meeting (which was cancelled at the last minute) end up being distributed and by whom?

If the minutes of last month’s investigative meeting are anything to go by (they’re a master class in obfuscation) we may never know. Especially since both sides say it wasn’t them.

If they’re both to be believed, then some mysterious third party must have wangled it all. Stranger than fiction!

Still, the Council is having another go at establishing the facts and is formally writing to the Chamber’s Chief Exec “seeking further clarification as to the identity of the originator of the reports”. Good luck with that.

Sainsbury’s for Thorpe Park?

What does come out of the minutes loud and clear is that the developers of Thorpe Park (with whom the Chamber is working on its New East Leeds project) have been planning to change the use of Thorpe Park from office accommodation to a retail outlet with Sainsbury’s as the anchor tenant.

Which would have serious implications for the development of the area – an area in which the Council has a considerable stake. Yet key councillors and the local housing land partnership apparently weren’t informed.

And what did the Chamber think of that? Well, we know they were asked for their views at the meeting, but the minutes somehow fail to include the answer they gave.

You couldn’t make it up!

The whole sorry saga is to be debated at a full meeting of the Council this Wednesday (16th November).

Advertisements

About the leeds citizen

contributions to this blog welcome
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Leeds council chief exec resigns from Chamber as bizarre row rumbles on

  1. Echo1 says:

    Great detective work! However, the paragraph about Sainsburys is a bit misleading:

    “What does come out of the minutes loud and clear is that the developers of Thorpe Park (with whom the Chamber is working on its New East Leeds project) have been planning to change the use of Thorpe Park from office accommodation to a retail outlet with Sainsbury’s as the anchor tenant.”

    Surely this concerns the development of some sort of small amenity block, not a ‘change of use’ of the entire Thorpe Park office park? Particularly considering there’s a large sainsburys over the road anyway!

    • Cheers Danny,
      here’s what the minutes of the Scrutiny Board said:

      “(Scrutiny members sought)…clarification of the Chamber’s views on plans to change the use of Thorpe Park from office accommodation to a retail outlet with Sainsbury’s acting as the anchor tenant which would have serious implications for a number of wards and to which elected members had not been made advised of (sic)”.

      Maybe you’re right, but do you have an anchor tenant in a “small amenity block”?

      here’s the link to the offending document. Go on! Read it for a laugh!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s