By David Spereall, local democracy reporter
A Leeds Labour councillor will stand down at the local elections next year, after 12 years in the role.
Caroline Gruen has represented the city’s Bramley and Stanningley ward since 2012.
During her time in office, Councillor Gruen has been a trustee of the board of Bramley Baths, which transferred to community ownership in the year she was elected, and confirmed she was standing down at the Baths’ AGM last month. She also chaired the Friends of Bramley War Memorial.
Cllr Gruen said: “Being an elected Councillor for my ward of Bramley and Stanningley since 2012 has not only been a great privilege for me but has also been very rewarding in being able to support the community and assist individual constituents.
“Bramley is a fantastic community and I have been able to give voice to our needs and aspirations by serving the fabulous Bramley Baths Board, the very hard working Bramley Elderly Action group, BARCA, who make such a difference to our youth provision and support so many people struggling to overcome addiction mental health conditions, and homelessness Hollybush Primary School, a great beacon of aspiration for its children and families and the Leeds West Academy where I chair the Local Accountability Board.
“Here too, everyone is involved in making a difference to pupils’ lives. When I started, the late Ted Hanley, then my ward councillor colleague. was such a great help to me and I still really miss him. Since then I have of course worked with our local champion Councillor Kevin Ritchie, welcomed Councillor Tom Hinchcliffe as my new ward colleague, and embraced Adele Rae who I very much hope will be elected to succeed me. I have also enjoyed working with our great MP Rachel Reeves. who has a very visible and supportive presence in the ward as well as making a huge difference to Labour’s policies nationally.
“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over the years – constituents, the many individuals who lead within the community, the Bramley Labour Branch, and my Labour Group colleagues. I will miss the Bramley Care Bears, the Friends of Bramley War Memorial, the Moorside Tenants and Residents Association, the residents of Daisyfield Grange, Rossefield Manor, Stanningley Court, Ash Lea Court and all the wonderful groups that make up the Bramley and Stanningley community.
“However, I hope not to lose contact with this community and its people by continuing my journey as part of BARCA, Hollybush Primary School and Leeds West Academy. This has been a really significant part of my life and I will of course continue to give my all until next May.”
Labour figures confirmed on social media that Adele Rae, the CEO of the Kirkstall Valley Development Trust, will stand as its candidate for Bramley and Stanningley in 2024.
Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, Ms Rae said she was “delighted” to have been selected by the party, adding that she had “big shoes to follow”.
Councillor Tom Hinchcliffe, who was elected as one of the area’s three councillors earlier this year, wrote on Facebook: “Adele is a tireless campaigner for social justice and will make a dedicated councillor for our community. She has big shoes to fill as Caroline Gruen steps down.
“Caroline’s commitment to Bramley and Stanningley for over 12 years has been a huge source of inspiration for us all and I’m delighted to be working with both Adele and Caroline on the upcoming campaign.
A former deputy head teacher and Ofsted inspector, Councillor Gruen recently called for the school system to water down its “constant emphasis” on academic success, for the benefit of children.
Her husband, Peter Gruen, was also a long-serving councillor and acted as deputy leader of the Labour-run local authority between 2010 and 2015.
Labour has held all three city council seats in Bramley and Stanningley since Leeds’ ward boundaries were rejigged in 2004. Before then, the Liberal Democrats had some success in its predecessor ward, known simply as ‘Bramley’, winning seats in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Follow WLD’s coverage of the May 2024 local elections here.