Our 100 Club Supporters: David Whittaker
David Whittaker is a Director of Amberstone Developments and a member of the Leeds Community Foundation’s 100 Club, a patronage scheme for individuals who are motivated to make a difference in Leeds. Here, he discusses what he loves about the city of Leeds and why he is involved in the foundation.
What’s your ideal day out in Leeds?
My ideal day out would probably start with brunch at one of the cafés on Oakwood Parade in Leeds, followed by a long muddy dog walk in Roundhay Park to tire out our two badly behaved rescue terriers (the one with the Hannibal Lecter face mask is ours!) We are working to stop him enthusiastically chasing joggers and pulling their shorts down!
After that a visit to Leeds City Art Gallery would be a welcome bit of relaxation, rounded off by afternoon tea in the Tiled Hall café. After a bit of down time, a cheeky beer and meal out in one of the city centre restaurants would be great.
There is such a variety and new restaurants are opening all the time, so it’s hard to keep up but I do like Arts Café on Call Lane which always has great ambience and good food and is a great spot to watch the party get started on a Saturday night.
What is the best lesson you have learnt in business?
I was fortunate to get my first job working for Peel Holdings PLC who subsequently developed the Trafford Centre amongst many other large developments. I worked for them in England and Australia. It’s a well run business and the main lesson I learnt was to try and keep things as simple as possible, both for your own benefit and for those who interface with you. If it gets incredibly complicated the fundamentals of a deal are probably not there in the first place.
What single thing do you think could help the city?
I think there are actually few things that would assist, depending on what level you are looking at:
Firstly, whatever your football allegiance there is no doubt that Premier League football for Leeds United would provide worldwide exposure for the city and would massively help the city’s profile and assist in attracting inward investment and new jobs.
Secondly, a decent public transport system is essential. Roundhay to Leeds on the bus in rush hour is nearly an hour door-to-door and it’s only 3.5 miles! – It’s almost quicker to walk.
Thirdly, better connectivity from the airport to the city centre is essential.
What inspired you to join the 100 Club?
I realised a couple of years ago that I had been quite fortunate in my career and this broadly coincided with my wife founding a mental health charity in Leeds city centre and consequently seeing/hearing the other side of life than my own. It’s a bit of a cliché, but I wanted to support the LCF to put something back into the city and to try and practically support charities who work with those who may not always have been quite so fortunate.
What community issues are important to you?
With a background in property and house building, I’m frustrated with the overall local and national policy response to homelessness which often goes hand in hand with other social issues such as mental and general health, family breakdown, poverty and unemployment. It’s a complex formula but we can all see the outcome in terms of homelessness on the streets which I think is unacceptable in the 21st century.