By David Spereall, local democracy reporter
Leeds’ top Conservative has retired as the party’s group leader on Leeds City Council after 40 years in the role.
Councillor Andrew Carter (Calverley & Farsley ward) has led the local Tories since 1983 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 will continue in his role as a ward councillor for Calverley and Farsley, having been re-elected for a four-year term in 2022.
He has been succeeded by his deputy, Wetherby councillor Alan Lamb, who confirmed the news on social media.
Councillor Carter, 74, is Leeds’ longest-serving city councillor of any party, having been first elected in 1973.
He departs after a bruising local election for the Conservatives, in which they lost three of the seven seats they were defending. His retirement is known to have been planned for several months regardless of the election results and was first reported by WLD in January.
Paying tribute to his predecessor, Councillor Lamb 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 as leader.
“He’s led our group formidably and was a brilliant leader of the council.
“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.”
Councillor Lamb, who was first elected in Wetherby in 2007, said he was proud to take on the role of Opposition leader and said he was “looking forward to the challenge”.
His promotion comes at a difficult time for the Conservatives nationally and in Leeds, with the party now holding just 18 seats on the city council – the fewest it’s had in nearly a decade.
But Councillor Lamb said his first job was to set out a “positive vision of what we would do if we were in charge of the council”.
He added: “One of my critisms of the current administration is the negativity and the doom-saying, because that starts to feed into the psyche. We should be talking the city up and being positive about what we can do with the still very siginficant resources we have available as an authority.”