At the end of 2024 Tom Riordon will be leaving Leeds City Council and recruitment for a new Chief Executive for the Council will soon begin. Forum Central would like to extent our sincere thanks and appreciation for Tom’s dedication and service to our city.
In a recent exchange with Forum Central Tom praised the third sector and our ‘excellent state of the sector report’ stating that
“We all need the third sector to be at the heart of our future thinking and planning”.
Tom recognised the current challenges and pressures we are under, through keeping up with the work of the Third Sector Partnership and sited the “challenges of higher demand, inflation, workforce pressures and other areas”. And was appreciative of the work of Forum Central and “everything you’ve done and your positive approach in these really challenging times for all of us.”
Tom, and Leeds City Council is keen that the third sector is involved in ‘developing our approaches to employment and health” and positive steps are being taken to discuss “a more integrated approach to third sector commissioning”.

Message from Tom, Chief Executive:

“After fourteen of the happiest years, I’ve decided that the time is right to move on and I will be leaving the council at the end of 2024. I have genuinely loved being Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, working with the best people in the best city. Together we’ve built a Team Leeds culture that delivers. A generation of children are growing up with the support of outstanding rated teams, thousands of vulnerable people are supported compassionately, more workers have access to better jobs, investors have confidence in Leeds as an economic and cultural hub, and older people are helped to live independent and fulfilling lives, in a city admired for what it gets done and the way it works. Rated as a global leader on both climate action and healthcare innovation, and by the Sunday Times as the best place to live in the North, if the country built houses at the rate of Leeds, there wouldn’t be a UK housing crisis. Huge challenges remain, especially on poverty and inequality, despite our efforts, and public transport has to improve, but the devolved future is brighter with bus reform and mass transit on the way. A generation of talented, diverse leaders are emerging from communities across Leeds in business, public life, and the arts who make me hugely optimistic for the city’s future.

Thank you to the politicians across all parties I’ve been lucky to work with in Leeds, especially the three Leaders James, Judith and Keith. Thanks to the incredible partners across the private, public and third sectors who make such a positive difference. Leeds attracts and retains the best people in their fields because it’s big enough to have scale and impact, and agile enough to get things done. Thanks to those who have demanded more: running a city is not easy, and I’ve always tried to be open to and learn from constructive criticism, and act upon it where I can.

Most of all, thank you to my team at the council. You have been brilliant, especially in responding to Covid and the financial challenge. We’ve worked hard together to build a culture where everyone feels valued, ambitious for Leeds and focused on making a difference. Having been in care myself, and lived with mental health in my family, I’ve been determined to build a culture that judges people on what they do and treats them with respect and kindness, and I hope you have felt that. Leeds is in good hands, with a diverse and talented team ready to grab the next opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do next, and I will make this clear before I leave at the end of 2024. I’m announcing well before then so that a recruitment process can start straight away for my successor. I’m sure there’ll be a strong shortlist for what is one of the best jobs in the country. I will always be an advocate for this great city, and local government; the UK public sector’s most productive, socially mobile, and underrated asset. Whatever I do next, my heart will always be in Leeds, Yorkshire and local government, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunities you’ve given me.”

Message from James, Leader of the Council:

“Tom is an outstanding chief executive and public servant who has worked tirelessly with all politicians, officers and partners over many years with a determination to do his absolute best for Leeds.

We’ve faced a lot of challenges, not least on the financial front. His contribution has been invaluable in helping us deliver council services that are highly rated, while building stronger communities where people are supported towards better lives and life outcomes.

In his time with us we’ve also attracted major investment, high-profile events and made great progress on building social housing and infrastructure to under-pin communities for the future.

Tom has played a key part in helping us to get to where we are today and has built a strong team of senior officers to continue that work. I’d like to take this chance to thank him for his considerable contribution and dedication to the council and city.”

We will continue working together to plan a smooth transition in the coming months to ensure business continuity, to maintain our excellent city relationships and momentum, with the work we are all progressing towards the Best City Ambition. We will start the recruitment process for a new Chief Executive soon and will keep you posted with significant developments as we always do.

Best wishes

James and Tom