Councillor Judith Blake, the first female leader of Leeds City Council and ward member for Belle Isle and Middleton has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours, in recognition of her years of service to local government.
The list, released yesterday (17 June 2017) saw Cllr Blake awarded a CBE while Alan Gay, Leeds City Council’s former deputy chief executive, was given an OBE.
Serving as a local ward councillor for 21 years, Cllr Blake became executive member for the council’s Children’s Services department in 2010, leading the initiative to make Leeds a truly child friendly city.
A series of city-wide partnerships and focussed initiatives eventually saw Leeds become the first core city in the country to be judged good with outstanding leadership and governance by Ofsted in 2015.
Since becoming leader of the council in 2015, Cllr Blake has also worked to ensure Leeds hosts a programme of world class events to enhance the city’s profile and strengthen the local economy.
She introduced a 50/50 gender representation in her cabinet as well as seeing the council become a Real Living Wage employer from April 2016.
Leeds has also launched an ambitious bid to be named European Capital of Culture in 2023, been named council of the year by the Municipal Journal in 2016 and been named in Lonely Planet’s top five places to visit in Europe in 2017.
Councillor Jane Dowson, Lord Mayor of Leeds, said:
“Councillor Blake has represented the people and city of Leeds at a local, national and international level for more than 20 years and this award is thoroughly deserved.
“During her time both as a councillor and council leader we have taken massive strides forward in the way we care for children and young people as well as seeing a huge boost in our city’s international profile and a string of major development projects which have been nothing short of transformative for the city.
“Underpinning all of this has been Cllr Blake’s dedication to balancing the need for a strong, resilient economy with compassion for the many people who are so proud to call Leeds home.”
Cllr Blake will travel to London later this year to formally accept their awards from The Queen.