The Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce, alongside the LGIU, that John Leech has been shortlisted for the 2020 Councillor Awards for Lifetime Achievement in public service.
John Leech, who has dedicated nearly three decades of his life to public service, has been shortlisted for the Lifetime Achievement award from more than 200 nominations.
Whilst working at McDonald’s as a student, John Leech began getting involved in local campaigns and social good projects. In 1998, he was elected to Manchester City Council and has continuously served its people since, securing historic victories for equal rights and the local community.
He spent 10 years as Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington from 2005–2015 and immediately returned to Manchester City Council in 2016.
His work has reached every corner of the UK, and beyond. He is probably best known as the "architect" of Alan Turing's Pardon and 'Turing's Law' which used Turing's pardon as a precedent to grant a posthumous pardon to more than 75,000 people historically criminally convicted of 'Gross Indecency' for being gay.
His expansive record of standing up for LGBTQ+ people has made him a powerful leader in the community and a strong voice for those so often suppressed.
Locally, where he has represented the people of Manchester, he is famous for being a true local champion: from fixing potholes and community cleanups to taking on more than 112,000 pieces of casework––you're never far away from someone who has been helped by John Leech.
During the COVID-19 crisis, he has delivered more than 800 food parcels to local people, held both local and national government to account and volunteered with numerous community groups, all whilst continuing to help with other local issues.
The Councillor Awards are the only national ceremony to celebrate the vital contributions of local representatives and 2020 marks the 11th year of showcasing the achievements of councillors across England.
Ed Davey MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:
“For nearly three decades, John Leech has been an incredible, relentless and fierce public servant, and I am so proud that his tireless work has been recognised.
"John has never been one to shout about his achievements, and I'm sure there's a part of him that will hate this attention, but he has been a transformational voice for the people of Manchester in both Parliament and Council, and that deserves recognition.
"But it is his commitment to pushing the envelope as far as possible for the LGBTQ+ community that has been so inspirational to many of his colleagues. John just can't let inequality go unchallenged. And thanks to him, more than 75,000 men and women including WWII hero Alan Turing who, as recently as 2013, still held criminal convictions for being gay had their records wiped clean and received a formal apology.
"Congratulations to you, John, on celebrating an unparalleled lifetime in public service. Your extraordinary dedication to Manchester, its residents and fighting for a fairer society is exactly what the Liberal Democrats stand for, and I know that your fierce passion isn’t going anywhere any time soon.”
Councillor Richard Kilpatrick, John Leech's colleague on Manchester Council, said:
"I'm not in the least bit surprised to see John recognised so highly. I have worked with him for six years now, and he's never stopped fighting for local people––not once.
"He is always the first one in the office and the last out. Every second of his day is spent fighting for other people, often to his own detriment. I have lost track of the number of people who say, 'I'll never forget the day John did this or that for me.'
"I know countless people whom he has driven to hospital and sat with as they get life-changing results because they have no one to go with, or who have called him at 3 am in desperate need of someone to talk to, and he has gone around and sat with them for hours.
"People's lives are unequivocally better because of the work he does and the never-ending passion he brings. Manchester is a better place thanks to him, and I'm so proud to serve alongside him.
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has presented this country with a set of challenges that few could have predicted. However, councillors up and down the country have risen to these challenges and stepped up to plate for their communities.
"From delivering food parcels to vulnerable residents and sourcing PPE for frontline workers to finding temporary accommodation for the homeless, local government has kept the country safe and moving.
"It is for this reason that we are particularly proud to unveil the shortlist for this year’s Cllr Awards. Their achievements showcase the best of local government at a time when the country faces one of the greatest hardships of our lifetime.
We would like to congratulate all of those councillors shortlisted and look forward to revealing the winners on the 26th of November.”
The winners will be decided by a panel of judges composed of senior councillors and officers as well as leading stakeholders from across the sector. Due to the ongoing health crisis, this year’s ceremony will take place virtually on Thursday 26th November.