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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Chief of City Council’s main opposition party deems Leeds year of culture disappointing

Leeds’ year of culture is threatening to turn into a “damp squib”, according to the chief of the city council’s main opposition party.

Cllr Alan Lamb, who leads the local Conservative group, suggested Leeds 2023 had failed to capture the public’s imagination thus far.

The council’s Labour administration defended the year-long festival and claimed its economic benefits were “undoubted”.

Councillor Alan Lamb. Image Twitter

Cllr Lamb made the comments at a meeting of the authority’s most senior members on Wednesday, as he referred to a council report which said Leeds 2023 will “let culture loose in all areas of the city”.

Cllr Alan Lamb said: “Given we’re now halfway through 2023 I think a lot of people in the city would be hard pressed to say they agree culture has been let loose in all parts.

“I accept there are a number of events still to come. The concern is it ‘will it end up being a bit of a damp squib?’

“I’d hope for the reputation of the city that we are going to look back at the end of 2023 and feel that all parts of the city did benefit.

“It doesn’t feel like that at the minute.”

But Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Labour’s executive member for culture, defended the festival.

Leeds had bid to be the European Capital of Culture for 2023, before Brexit ruled the city out of the process. Undeterred, the local authority insisted it would press on with its own cultural celebration.

Cllr Pryor said events were taking place in every one of the city’s 33 electoral wards and that the programme was being taken into local schools.

Councillor Jonathan Pryor. Image: Twitter

He also said the near £6m worth of council spending on Leeds 2023 had brought in extra cash from lottery funding and The Arts Council.

He told the meeting: “More money has been spent in Leeds than would been here had we not gone forward with Leeds 2023.

“That’s a clear economic benefit. Whatever people think of the artistic side of things – and art will always attract different opinions – it’s undoubted that that money is coming into Leeds.

“I’ve every faith this will continue to boost our economy and we’ve still got half the year to go.”

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