08 May 2024

Leeds City Council Chief Executive to leave at the end of 2024

Leeds City Council Tom Riordan CBE

Leeds City Council’s Chief Executive Tom Riordan today announced his intention to leave at the end of the year to explore new opportunities.

After 14 years at the helm of the second-biggest local authority in the country, Tom has decided the time is right to try fresh challenges.

As one of the longest-standing UK local government chiefs, he has made a big impact in Leeds, working alongside council leaders and other senior politicians towards achieving their best city and best council ambitions.  He was awarded the CBE for services to local government in the 2020 new year’s honours.

Tom said:

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

“We’ve established a collaborative Team Leeds culture that delivers, working together with our partners to ensure we have a city that’s regenerating and growing sustainably.

“A generation of children are growing up supported by outstanding-rated 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 gets done and the way it works.

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

Leeds City Council Leader Councillor James Lewis said:

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

“We’ve faced a lot of challenges, not least on the financial front.  His contribution has been invaluable in helping us deliver council services that are highly rated, while building stronger communities where people are supported towards better lives and life outcomes.

“In his time with us we’ve also attracted major investment, high-profile events and made great progress on building social housing and infrastructure to under-pin communities for the future.

“Tom has played a key part in helping us to get to where we are today and has built a strong team of senior officers to continue that work.  I’d like to take this chance to thank him for his considerable contribution and dedication to the council and city.”

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

In this time the council has been involved in attracting Channel 4, Burberry, the Bank of England and the UK Infrastructure Bank to the city, along with international events like the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.  It has built the first direct Arena, greatly expanded the city centre across the South Bank and worked to facilitate the openings of the Trinity Leeds and Victoria Gate shopping centres.

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

The council has invested strongly in communities with an ongoing programme of social housing construction, along with infrastructure to support city development like the East Leeds Orbital Route.  Its community focus also means it works directly in districts to support improving outcomes for the most vulnerable.

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

Tom added:

“This is an exceptional council, with so many talented, hard-working people dedicated to doing their absolute best for the city and its people.  It’s been a privilege to be in a role where there are genuine opportunities to make a real difference to people’s lives.

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

“While we have many challenges, in common with all councils, Leeds is in as good a place as it can be to weather them.  There is also a generation of bright, diverse leaders emerging from communities and in business, public life, and the arts who make me hugely optimistic for the city’s future.”

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

Notes to editors:

Tom returned home to Yorkshire after beginning his career in Whitehall, where he specialised in environmental policy, representing the UK in international negotiations on climate change and endangered species.  He then set up the Yorkshire Forward regional development agency, becoming its chief executive in 2006 and leading the region’s economic development and regeneration.  He has long experience of working across political lines and with many different partners.

Leeds City Council was formally praised in 2022 for how it operates following a peer review carried out by the Local Government Association. The LGA team returned to Leeds in summer 2023 for a progress review and were again positive in their findings, while recognising the significant ongoing financial challenge the council is facing.


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Leeds City Council Communications team