Leeds council election candidates to be quizzed at City Varieties

Leeds election count.
Leeds election count.

Residents will be able to challenge Leeds local election candidates and business leaders about mental health services, work opportunities and wage improvements.

Leeds Citizens, a branch of “community organising” charity Citizens UK, is hosting an Accountability Assembly on Thursday at City Varieties Music Hall.

Those set to be quizzed by members of a hundreds-strong audience include Coun Judith Blake for Labour, Coun Alan Lamb for the Conservatives and Coun Stewart Golton for the Liberal Democrats.

Read more: Listed: Every candidate standing in the 2018 Leeds City Council elections

Leeds United managing director Angus Kinnear, president of Leeds Law Society Bill Barton and Paul Taylor, business Paul Taylor business development manager at construction company Harris CM will also answer questions.

The Right Reverend Paul Slater, the Bishop of Kirkstall, Together for Peace’s Jill Mann and John Battle, former Leeds West MP, will chair the event.

They are due to make calls in three areas: improved mental health care in GP surgeries and workplaces; new work experience opportunities for young people; and a real Living Wage of £8.75 per hour for the city’s workers.

Darlin Nitcheu, a young Leeds Citizens member from Chapeltown who has repeatedly struggled with to find work, said:“I have applied for over 150 jobs.

“The worst thing is that most of the time you get no feedback. Sometimes they say I lack experience.

“But how do you expect me to get experience, if you won’t give me a chance?

“I’m looking forward to the Leeds Citizens Assembly because I want business and civic leaders to work with us to increase work experience opportunities for young people.”

Bill Barton from Leeds Law Society said he wants to work to make Leeds a Living Wage city.

He said: “I’m proud that my own firm, Barton Legal, has been accredited as a real Living Wage employer. It makes good business sense and is the right thing to do. As one of the world’s leading legal centres, Leeds has a great opportunity to lead the way in this initiative.”

Bishop Paul Slater, from The Anglican Diocese of Leeds, said: “We have planned this Assembly in order to highlight the issues that matter most to people living in Leeds ahead of the local elections with extremely urgent asks on mental health, low pay and opportunities for young people.

"Leeds Citizens is a non-partisan, community alliance. Over the last 18 months, we have used Community Organising to listen, build relationships, identify injustices and campaign to address some of the big local and citywide problems facing people in Leeds.

"Now we are seeking support from our local business leaders and election candidates, to turn these proposals into action.”

Council elections take place on Thursday, May 3 across Leeds and the UK.

The event is free and anyone can attend. It is due to begins at 7pm and finish at 9pm.

Register for tickets via Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/2CEshUg