David Parkin avoids a political scandal

THE top Conservative politician has retired as the party’s group leader on Leeds City Council after 43 years in the role.

There are dictators in banana republics who would be envious of that run.

Councillor Andrew Carter has led the local Tories since 1980 and served as Leeds’ joint council leader between 2004 and 2010, when the Conservatives led the city in coalition with the Liberal Democrats.

Councillor Carter, who is 74 years of age, is Leeds’ longest-serving city councillor of any party, having been first elected in 1973.

Paying tribute, Councillor Alan Lamb, who has taken over the role, said: “Councillor Carter’s done a remarkable job, especially when you think Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and Ronald Reagan was President when he started.

“There are many things you can point to by way of a legacy, but delivering the Leeds Arena is a fitting one, because we wouldn’t have had that if he’d not been leader of the council.

“I don’t think there’s a person anywhere in the city who wouldn’t think that was a good idea now,” added Councillor Lamb.

Councillor Carter will continue in his role as a ward councillor for Calverley and Farsley, having been re-elected for a four-year term in 2022.

I’ve met Andrew Carter a few times and always found him an affable and forthright character.

In fact we shared the same bed once.

Calm down.

When the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed a coalition to govern Leeds for six years from 2004 they did so by sharing the leadership.

So Andrew Carter did six months as leader and then swapped with the Lib Dem leader Mark Harris.

That kind of set up was never going to deliver great results.

But, to be fair, I’ve seen single party administrations achieve a lot less.

Anyway, as part of his leadership, Andrew Carter was invited to the MIPIM property conference in Cannes where Leeds had a delegation and had chartered a yacht which was moored up just outside the main conference centre.

Developers and overseas investors were invited on board where the city showcased itself to prospective partners.

A number of the delegation stayed on the yacht during the event and I was there as the Yorkshire Post was the media partner and I was then its business editor.

When I arrived the only accommodation available onboard was the master suite, which had been prepared for the arrival of the city council leader Andrew Carter later in the week.

So I had a couple of nights of luxury on the yacht before being turfed out when the civic head honcho arrived.

I then had to move ended up having to share a small, dingy apartment in the back streets of Cannes with two architects and a quantity surveyor.


WITH a CV that boasts names like Coutts, Eversheds and County NatWest, John Richardson has been there and done it when it comes to funding and advising businesses.

Now retired, he looks 10 years younger than he really is and I may have discovered the reason.

During an entertaining lunch at Sous le Nez recently I caught up with John who now spends his time cycling and hiking and he and wife Liz are looking forward to their daughter’s wedding this summer.

Over lunch we reflected on the changes in the corporate and business landscape in Leeds and inevitably got onto the continuing shambles that is the work on the roads into and around the city centre, most notably City Square.

Most people conclude that whatever aim all this work is supposed to eventually achieve, what it already has done is drive business people and shoppers away from the city centre.

Work on this showpiece square, which used to be the first thing motorists and train travellers saw when arriving in the city centre, is not due to finish until August.

Given some kind of installation to showcase the Leeds 2023 City of Culture has been promised for City Square, when work is finally finished the festival will be nearly over.

I pointed all this out to John during our lunch and he looked at me with a mellow expression and said: “I try not to get annoyed by things like that and don’t want to be the kind of person who says ‘it was better in my day’.”

Very wise and sensible words.

It made me reflect that perhaps I should try to do the same.

Although there was a silver lining to my moaning.

John said that he may well invite me to be a guest at a lunch he and several retired Yorkshire corporate titans organise every few months.

It’s called the Old Farts’ Lunch.


DESPITE being something of a journalistic cynic, I’m all for celebrating success and achievement in my adopted city.

But I always think you need to keep a sense of perspective.

Apparently Steph McGovern, who presents the daily lunchtime chat show ‘Steph’s Packed Lunch’ on Channel 4 from a studio at Leeds Dock, celebrated her 41st birthday yesterday.

And it was the day that a blue plaque was unveiled at Leeds Dock celebrating the “inclusivity and diversity” of her weekday show.

I’m not a regular watcher of the programme, but it has certainly added something different to daytime TV and it is nice to see another show broadcast from outside London.

The plaque was revealed by Martin Hamilton from the Leeds Civic Trust, live on TV, who said: “Steph, your contribution to broadcasting and culture in the city of Leeds is absolutely immense.

“You’ve turned Leeds Dock into a Hollywood Boulevard… famous people, public figures coming on the show and underpinned by your excellent journalism. We wanted to mark this… Today we have a special plaque just for you.”

OK Martin, I know you were on live TV, but that’s going a bit over the top isn’t it?

The last time I took a stroll near the studio in Leeds Dock I don’t recall a Hollywood Boulevard vibe.

There were two techies eating jacket potatoes with beans and cheese in their beards and a seagull picking at a McDonald’s carton.

Have a great weekend.

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