Statement from Councillor Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council:
“I have tonight informed Manchester City Council’s Labour Group of my intention, after 25 years, to step down as Leader of the Council on December 1 this year.
“This is an entirely personal decision reflecting my personal priorities for the next few years. I want this to be my decision, it had to happen at some time and this is as good a time as any.
“My commitment to the city and the city region remains undiminished and I am confident that with a strong body of councillors determined to deliver the Our Manchester Strategy supported by an excellent political executive, a Strategic Management Team as good as it has ever been, thousands of great council workers, hundreds of enthusiastic partners and good potential candidates to take my place, the work will continue to enable Covid containment and recovery, and build a healthier, wealthier, happier, fairer and greener Manchester.
“It has been an enormous privilege to serve the people of Manchester over this period of time and my heartfelt thanks goes to the thousands of people who have worked with us over the last 25 years.”
Statement from Joanne Roney OBE, chief executive of Manchester City Council:
“Sir Richard is a towering figure in the life of Manchester, which has been transformed during more than a quarter of a century of his leadership from a declining, post-industrial city to the fastest growing city in the UK which can face the future with confidence.
“His leadership and consistent vision have been integral to that turnaround, guiding the city’s remarkable regeneration and playing a key role in devolution and the integration of health and social care. He has also helped lead the city through some difficult times, including the aftermath of the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack and most recently of course the challenges associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The strength of the foundations his drive and dedication have helped build over the decades mean that his legacy will endure – from the huge Victoria North development which is transforming the north of the city with much-needed housing and a new river side park – to the city’s commitment to tackling climate change to the improved Greater Manchester-wide health system, you don’t need to look very far to see his influence. We have long-term strategies in place, including the overarching Our Manchester Strategy, which set out a vision for the thriving, inclusive city we aim to be and how we get there, so that everybody has the chance to share in that success.
“It has been a privilege to serve alongside Richard, and together with the rest of Manchester’s leadership team I look forward to continuing that work.”
TIMELINE - Sir Richard Leese
1984 – first elected to City Council
1990-96 - Deputy Leader
May 1996 - Becomes Leader
June 1996 - IRA Manchester city centre bomb
1996 - Manchester Millennium Limited established to oversee the transformation of the city centre
1999 - New East Manchester urban regeneration company established
2002 – Manchester hosts the Commonwealth Games, at the time the largest multi-sports event ever hosted in the UK and the catalyst to the wider regeneration of East Manchester and unparalleled investment in sports and leisure facilities around the Etihad Campus.
2006 – Knighted for services to local government
2007 – Manchester International Festival established
2011 – Greater Manchester Combined Authority established, with Sir Richard as vice chair Nov 2014 – Signatory to the Greater Manchester devolution agreement with central government, which gives greater powers to the Combined Authority working together with a directly-elected GM Mayor.
Feb 2015 – Signatory to the Greater Manchester Health and Devolution Memorandum of Understanding outlining plans to integrate health and social care in GM and devolve the NHS budget to the region.
April 2016 – The MoU agreement comes into force
May 2017 – Appointed as Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester
2017 – Manchester Arena terror attack
2018 – Huge Northern Gateway initiative announced, the biggest regeneration scheme in the city since East Manchester
March 2020 – Takes over as GMCA portfolio holder for health and care and as chair of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership