THE new leader of the Labour Party in York has been announced as Dafydd Williams.

Councillor Williams takes on the role following the resignation of Council Leader James Alexander earlier this month, and was chosen as his successor by members of the Labour group at a meeting in York today.

Labour lost overall control of the council following five defections from the group, and came under criticism for the controversial closure of Lendal Bridge to traffic.

Now, Coun Williams will be officially nominated as preferred leader of the council, but will need the approval of a majority at a meeting of the council on Thursday, December 11.

Councillor Ruth Potter, chair of the Labour group, made the announcement this morning following an election within the group.

She said: "I'd like to welcome Coun Williams to the role as the Labour Group looks to continue work on sustaining York's economy in the face of Tory-Lib Dem Government austerity measures."

Coun Williams said: "I want to thank my Labour colleagues for putting their confidence in me by giving me the incredible honour to lead the Labour Group at this critically important time.

"I'm really looking forward to the challenge and the chance to change the way politics is done in York. Too often our politics has been done by attacking individuals and negative campaigning, which leaves residents cold."

Coun Williams also praised Coun Alexander's leadership of the group and the council, and said he planned to share his vision for the city in the days ahead of the council meeting in December.

PROFILE: Councillor Dafydd Williams

- Coun Williams is 36 years old and was brought up in York.

- He currently lives in Heworth, and will stand for a second term as a York councillor in May.

- He is the Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance.

- Coun Williams is head of public affairs at Yorkshire Water, and has previously worked in public relations agencies, as a councillor in Plymouth, and worked for MPs and ministers in the Labour Government.


FOLLOWING the announcement that Councillor Dafydd Williams has been elected leader of the York Labour Group, local leaders of the opposition parties have given their thoughts on the appointment.

Councillor Keith Aspden, leader of the Liberal Democrats in York, said he hoped Coun Williams would use his new position to listen more closely to the people of York.

He said: "I hope that we will see meaningful change in his group’s policies. Key issues such as plans to close Yearsley Pool should be re-examined and the council must start listening and engaging with residents again.

"The new leader must also begin to repair the damage done by the botched Lendal Bridge trial and I urge him to support a Liberal Democrat motion to repay all the fines at December’s full council meeting. This will be his first test as leader and will show whether things have really changed in the Labour Group."

Councillor Andy D'Agorne, leader of the Green Party in York, said he believed Coun Williams was the public's favourite to take over the party.

He said: "I'm sure he will be a good leader, but we will have to see whether he wants to take a different approach to James Alexander.

"In my experience, I found he's quite approachable and willing to enter into discussion, respecting people with different viewpoints, but I think the important thing is to respect the fact that the Labour group no longer has overall majority and needs to be more inclusive in terms of the range of particular opinions to try and find solutions for the city."

Councillor Chris Steward, leader of the Conservative Party in York, said: "He's a sensible, likeable and intelligent individual, however there is no getting away from the fact he's been a cornerstone of the Labour cabinet which cannot be described as that.

"Hopefully he will work cross-party on things rather than as it has been - Labour or not Labour. To his credit, that's been something he's shown he may do in the past. However, under James Alexander, the opposition hasn't been allowed any say at all. I'd like to see him change focus from vanity projects and towards basic services, like potholes and salt bins."