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The City of Leeds is a local government district of West Yorkshire, England, with the status of a city and metropolitan borough. The principal settlement of the district is the regionally significant commercial centre of Leedsmarker; but it includes other smaller towns such as Guiseleymarker, Morleymarker, Otleymarker, Pudseymarker and Wetherbymarker. It has a population of ( ) and is the second largest local government district in England by population; among metropolitan districts, it is the second largest by area.

The current city boundaries were set on 1 April 1974 by the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972, as part a reform of local government in England. The city is an amalgamation of eleven former local government districts; the unitary City and County Borough of Leeds combined with the municipal boroughs of Morley and Pudsey, the urban districts of Aireboroughmarker, Garforth, Horsforthmarker, Otleymarker and Rothwellmarker, and parts of the rural districts of Tadcastermarker, Wharfedalemarker and Wetherbymarker from the West Riding of Yorkshire.

For its first 12 years the city had a two-tier system of local government; Leeds City Council shared power with the West Yorkshire County Council. Since the Local Government Act 1985 Leeds City Council has effectively been a unitary authority, serving as the sole executive, deliberative and legislative body responsible for local policy, setting council tax, and allocating budget in the city, and is a member of the Leeds City Region Partnershipmarker. Thc City of Leeds is divided into 31 civil parishes and a single unparished area.



The Borough of Leeds was created in 1207, when Maurice Paynel, lord of the manor, granted a charter covering a small area adjacent to a crossing of the River Aire, between the old settlement centred on Leeds Parish Church to the east and the manor house and mills to the west. In 1626 a charter was granted by Charles I, incorporating the entire parish as the Borough of Leeds; it was reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. The parish and borough included the chapelries of Chapel Allertonmarker, Armleymarker, Beestonmarker, Bramleymarker, Farnleymarker, Headingley cum Burleymarker, Holbeckmarker, Hunsletmarker, Leedsmarker, Potternewtonmarker and Wortleymarker. The borough was located in the West Riding of Yorkshiremarker and gained city status in 1893. When a county council was formed for the riding in 1889, Leeds was excluded from its area of responsibility and formed a county borough. The borough made a significant number of territorial expansions, expanding from in 1911 to in 1961; adding in stages the former area of the Roundhay, Seacroft, Shadwell and Middleton parishes and gaining other parts of adjacent districts.


A review of local government arrangements completed in 1969 proposed the creation of a new large district centered on Leeds, occupying 317,000 acres and including 840,000 people. The proposed area was significantly reduced in a 1971 white paper; and within a year every local authority to be incorporated into it protested or demonstrated. The final proposal reduced the area further and following the enactment of the Local Government Act 1972, the county borough was abolished on 1 April 1974 and its former area was combined with that of the municipal boroughs of Morley and Pudsey; the urban districts of Aireboroughmarker, Horsforthmarker, Otleymarker, Garforth and Rothwellmarker; and parts of the rural districts of Tadcastermarker, Wetherbymarker and Wharfedalemarker. The new district gained both borough and city status, as had been held by the county borough; and forms part of the county of West Yorkshire.

Formation of the metropolitan district in 1974
The former county borough is shaded in grey. Other areas:
  1. Municipal Borough of Morley
  2. Municipal Borough of Pudsey
  3. Aireborough Urban District
  4. Horsforth Urban District
  5. Otley Urban District
  6. Garforth Urban District
  7. Rothwell Urban District
  8. 8a. Tadcaster Rural District (part)
  9. Wetherby Rural District (part)
  10. Wharfedale Rural District (part)


The district and its settlements are situated in the eastern foothills of the Pennines astride the River Airemarker whose valley, the Aire Gap, provides a road and rail corridor that facilitates communications with cities to the west of the Pennines. The district extends 15 miles from east to west and 13 miles from north to south; with over 65% covered with green belt land. The highest point, at 1,115 feet (340 m), is at its north western extremity on the eastern slopes of Rombalds Moor, better known as Ilkley Moormarker, on the boundary with the City of Bradfordmarker. The lowest points are at around 33 feet (10 m), in the east: where River Wharfemarker crosses the boundary with North Yorkshire south of Thorp Arch Trading Estatemarker and where the River Aire (at this point forming the City of Wakefieldmarker boundary) meets the North Yorkshire boundary near Fairburn Ingsmarker. To the north and east Leeds is bordered by North Yorkshire: Harrogate districtmarker to the north and Selby districtmarker to the east. The remaining borders are with other districts of West Yorkshire: Wakefieldmarker to the south, Kirkleesmarker to the south west, and Bradfordmarker to the west.


Leeds City Council is the local authority of the district. The council is composed of 99 councillors, three for each of the city's ward. Elections are held three years out of four, on the first Thursday of May. One third of the councillors are elected, for a four year term, in each election. 2004 saw all seats up for election due to boundary changes. It is currently under no overall control, and is run by a coalition of the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Morleymarker Borough Independents. The leaders of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats take turns to hold the office of Leader. West Yorkshire does not have a county council, so Leeds City Council is the primary provider of local government services. The district forms part of the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England.

The district consists of the unparished area of Leedsmarker and 31 civil parishes. These form the lowest tier of local government and absorb some limited functions from Leeds City Council in their areas. The councils of Horsforthmarker, Morley, Otleymarker and Wetherbymarker are town councils. The 27 other civil parishes are:

The district is represented by eight MP, for the constituencies of Elmetmarker (Colin Burgon, Labour); Leeds Central (Hilary Benn, Labour); Leeds East (George Mudie, Labour); Leeds North Eastmarker (Fabian Hamilton, Labour); Leeds North Westmarker (Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem); Leeds Westmarker (John Battle, Labour); Morley and Rothwellmarker (Colin Challen, Labour); and Pudsey (Paul Truswell, Labour). Various boundary changes will be implemented for the next General Election, when Leeds will be represented by members for seven constituencies and three-fifths of one: Elmet will be replaced by Elmet and Rothwellmarker and Morley by Morley and Outwoodmarker (three Leeds wards and two Wakefieldmarker wards), and the boundaries of the other constituencies will be altered. Leeds is within the Yorkshire and the Humber European constituency, which is represented by two Conservative, one Labour, one UKIP, one Liberal Democrat and one BNP MEP. The voting figures for Leeds in the European Parliament election in June 2009 were: Conservative 22.6%, Labour 21.4%, UKIP 15.9%, Lib Dem 13.8%, BNP 10.0%, Green 9.4%.


Leeds compared
2001 UK Census City of Leeds
metropolitan district
and the Humber
Population 715,402 4,964,833 49,138,831
White 91.8% 93.5% 90.9%
Asian 4.5% 4.5% 4.6%
Black 1.4% 0.7% 2.3%
As of the 2001 UK census, the district had a total population of 715,402. Of the 301,614 households in Leeds, 33.3% were married couples living together, 31.6% were one-person households, 9.0% were co-habiting couples and 9.8% were lone parents, following a similar trend to the rest of England. The population density was and for every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. Of those aged 16–74, 30.9% had no academic qualifications, higher than the 28.9% in all of England. Of the residents, 6.6% were born outside the United Kingdom, lower than the England average of 9.2%.

The majority of people in Leeds identify themselves as Christian. The proportion of Muslims is average for the country. Leeds has the third-largest Jewish community in the United Kingdom, after those of London and Manchester. The areas of Alwoodleymarker and Moortownmarker contain sizeable Jewish populations. 16.8% of Leeds residents in the 2001 census declared themselves as having "no religion", which is broadly in line with the figure for the whole of the UK (also 8.1% "religion not stated").

The crime rate in Leeds is well above the national average, like many other English major cities. In July 2006, the think tank Reform calculated rates of crime for different offences and has related this to populations of major urban areas (defined as towns over 100,000 population). Leeds was 11th in this rating (excluding London boroughs, 23rd including London boroughs). The table below details the population of the current area of the district since 1801, including the percentage change since the last available census data.

Population growth in City of Leeds since 1801
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1941 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 94,421 108,459 137,476 183,015 222,189 249,992 311,197 372,402 433,607 503,493 552,479 606,250 625,854 646,119 668,667 692,003 715,260 739,401 696,732 716,760 715,404
% change +14.87 +26.75 +33.13 +21.40 +12.51 +24.48 +19.67 +16.44 +16.12 +9.73 +9.73 +3.23 +3.24 +3.49 +3.49 +3.36 +3.38 −5.77 +2.87 −0.19
Source: Vision of Britain


Leeds has a diverse economy with the service sector now dominating over the traditional manufacturing industries. It is the location of one of the largest financial centres in England outside London. New tertiary industries such as retail, call centres, offices and media have contributed to a high rate of economic growth. This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Leeds at current basic prices with figures in millions of British pounds sterling.

Year Regional Gross
Value Added
Agriculture Industry Services
1995 8,713 43 2,652 6,018
2000 11,681 32 2,771 8,878
2003 13,637 36 3,018 10,583


Education Leeds, a non-profit company owned by Leeds City Council, has provided educational services since 2001.


Zero-fare bus service

Leeds city centremarker is connected to the National Rail network at Leeds railway stationmarker. Public transport in West Yorkshire is coordinated by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, under the control of a joint-board of local authorities in the county and including Leeds City Council. The transport authority is notable for providing a zero-fare bus service in Leeds city centre, the FreeCityBus.

Twin towns

Leeds City Council has several twinning or partnership arrangements:

It also has "strong contacts" with the following cities "for the purposes of ongoing projects":

Notes and references

  • includes hunting and forestry
  • includes energy and construction
  • includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  • Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  1. .
  2. M. Freedman (1988) "The Leeds Jewish Community" pp. 161–174 in L. S. Tate (ed) Aspects of Leeds ISBN 1-871647-38-X
  3. Retrieved on 19 December 2008.

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