Council Leader to step down

Cllr Peter Box, CBE has decided to step down as Leader of Wakefield Council, following his appointment as Chairman of Welcome to Yorkshire.

He will end his 21 years at the helm of Wakefield Council on 30 November 2019.

Commenting on his decision Cllr Box said: “I had always intended not to seek re-election in May 2020 and to step down as Leader at that time.

“But after being given the opportunity to chair Welcome to Yorkshire, I have decided to leave my role as Leader of Wakefield Council at the end of November to enable me to give Welcome to Yorkshire the attention it needs. I am determined to make the necessary changes at the organisation as quickly as possible and restore public confidence.

“It has been a great privilege to serve the residents of this district as Leader, particularly those in my ward of Altofts and Whitwood, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the last 21 years. I shall miss taking on the future challenges faced by the Council, but most of all I shall miss working with residents and communities and seeing the positive difference we can make to people’s lives.”

First elected as a councillor in 1983, Cllr Box became Leader of Wakefield Council in 1998. He faced the immediate challenge of changing the fortunes of an underachieving local authority into a modern, efficient and high performing organisation.

As Leader, Cllr Box has steered Wakefield Council through a decade of austerity, whilst trying to grow the local economy and drive forward the district’s cultural and creative ambition.

Cllr Box said: “The last ten years of Government austerity have been some of the most challenging. We have delivered extraordinary financial efficiencies from every corner of the Council and been forced to stretch public money to go further than ever before.

“We have always been committed to delivering value for money and doing the best with what we have got and I am pleased that we have been able to continue to invest in the future of this district.”

Wakefield Council’s Chief Executive Merran McRae said: “It has been a privilege to work with Cllr Box over the last two years. His strong commitment to this district, all our residents and this Council has been very clear to see.

“Under his leadership there has been significant regeneration and a huge focus on supporting economic growth, resulting in the district having one of the ten fastest-growing local economies in the UK today.

“I am very pleased that he will remain as Leader until November, giving us the necessary time to ensure there is a smooth transition.”

Cllr Box added: “Having been involved in local government for so long I am looking forward to this new role I have been asked to take on.”

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