“The power of the OECD Champion Mayors for Inclusive Growth Initiative is that national borders don’t get in the way of our conversation about how to address inequalities in our cities. When Mayors and Leaders build their city strategies centred on inclusive growth, this means getting everyone to benefit from the economy to their full potential. It means raising our productivity, increasing skills levels, more innovation and better infrastructure. The coronavirus crisis has increased inequalities, and the rising unemployment rates of young people is of particular concern. We must do all we can to support vulnerable groups and be prepared to deal with long term consequences of the pandemic.”
– Councillor Judith Blake
Councillor Judith Blake was elected as the first female Leader of Leeds City Council in May 2015. She is also the Council’s Executive Board Member for Inclusive Growth.
In July 2016 Cllr Blake became Chair of the Core Cities Group that represents the Councils of England’s eight largest city economies outside London. She is also Chair of England’s Local Government Association’s Children and Young People’s Board. Cllr Blake is also the Council’s lead member for International Relations, leading council’s involvement in the EUROCITIES network and she recently lobbied for the creation of the new EUROCITIES working group for children and young people, which Leeds now chairs.
Cllr Blake has been a Labour Councillor since 1996, and represents Middleton and Belle Isle in Leeds. During her time as a Councillor she has had responsibility for a wide range of portfolios including Planning, Education and Leisure. Cllr Blake currently chairs the Council’s Executive Board and previously served as a board member for National Health Service Leeds and the West Yorkshire Police Authority.
In 2017, Cllr Blake was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by the Queen in recognition of service to local government.
Councillor Blake is taking an inclusive approach to promote Leeds as a compassionate city with a strong economy and improve the lives and life chances of everyone in Leeds. The council is working with local businesses and other organisations to focus on practical actions grouped into three pillars and outlined in the Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy. The pillars include Inclusive Growth, Health and Wellbeing, and Tackling the Climate Emergency.
Inclusive Growth will raise the city’s productivity; increase skills levels, foster innovation and develop infrastructure, and aims to generate more money for public services, reduce unemployment and increase wages, for example, council’s adoption of a ‘real living wage’. During the first year of implementation of the strategy, Channel 4 media company established national headquarters in the city, Leeds was the only UK city to receive an Outstanding Ofsted rating for Children’s Services, and Leeds was the only city to record a decline in childhood obesity.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Leeds seeks to return the city to economic prosperity whilst maintaining inclusive growth.