Leeds Tory leader calls on top councillor to resign over city's homes blueprint as members clash

Coun Richard Lewis.
Coun Richard Lewis.

A top councillor has been called on to resign if he cannot "sort" the city's controversial Site Allocations Plan (SAP).

Labour's Coun Richard Lewis was in the firing line as members clashed at an Extraordinary Meeting of Leeds City Council at Civic Hall this morning.

It comes after Government just over a month ago suggested a target of 42,000 new homes in Leeds by 2028 – a dramatic drop from the authority’s own figure of nearly 70,000.

Inspectors were due to carry out a public review of Leeds’s housing blueprint in October, but the sessions examining the homes aspect of the SAP are now expected in March.

Coun Andrew Carter, leader of Leeds’s Conservative Group, had put forward a motion of no confidence in the authority over the issue.
He is concerned that the current plans threaten the city's protected Green Belt land.

But ultimately it was executive member for regeneration, transport and planning Coun Lewis’s amendment which was carried by a vote of 56 to 34.

In the amendment, Coun Lewis wrote: “Council notes the Conservative government policy has created the perverse situation where it is both failing to provide the housing needed by the people of Leeds and weakening the protection of the city’s green belt and is therefore utterly dysfunctional.”

But Coun Carter told him at the meeting: “You’ve been rumbled. If you can’t sort it, resign. Half of your group would like to see you go.”

His remark was met with jeers from Labour members.

And Coun Robert Finnigan, of the Morley Borough Independents, said: “Nobody’s every accountable, nobody ever resigns and that’s a disgrace to this fine city.”

Earlier in the meeting, Coun Lewis told members: "We are in the real world, and you have to deal with the real situation were are in.

"The reality is, that figure [70,000 homes] was agreed by a Government inspector [at the time]."

He told the Conservatives: "You always come back to the same thing and you always come back to it in a one-dimensional way.

"It's always about Green Belt release. It's not just about Green Belt release. It's about the city's real housing needs."