Leeds and Partners to move to Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership to build on inward investment successes and increase opportunities for growth
A review of how best to attract inward investment to Leeds City Region recommends the inward investment and marketing and communications functions of Leeds and Partners should be wholly transferred to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority overseen by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) from spring 2015 to maximise the potential for economic growth in the region and save nearly £1million.
Members of Leeds City Council’s executive board are being asked to approve the review’s recommendations when they meet next week (Wednesday 17 December).
The review recognises that Leeds and Partners has transformed the way that Leeds and the city region attract inward investment and the increasing importance of a regional approach to economic growth and job creation. In particular the review clearly sets out the opportunity to build on the strong relationships Leeds and Partners has with the private sector regionally, nationally and internationally and the benefits of their approach which establishes clearly defined propositions to attract investors.
The combined strength of assets across the region; the strong synergies between inward investment and wider city region work; and the potential for efficiencies make the case for developing an inward investment function that can realise the region’s ambitious agenda to drive sustainable, high-quality jobs and support economic growth.
If approved, the move would mean a closer integration of inward investment with wider activity to promote growth and a significant saving of approximately £950k from the current corporate function of Leeds and Partners which would no longer be needed under the new arrangements.
The review was conducted by senior leaders from across the city region and chaired by Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield. Other members of the review group were: Councillor Peter Box (Leader, Wakefield Council and chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority); Roger Marsh (chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership); Andy Clarke (chair, Leeds and Partners) and Sandy Needham (chief executive of West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce).
Leader of Leeds City Council and chair of the inward investment review group Councillor Keith Wakefield said:
“While it is clear that Leeds and Partners put our inward investment activity on a more robust footing we cannot rest on our laurels and need to continue to compete more effectively as a city region both nationally and globally. In the current climate, this move is the right step to make sure that as a region we harness all of the resources available to us and use them to the best possible effect.”
Other recommendations include:
- appointing a director of inward investment;
- setting up a ‘Leeds City Region Ambassadors’ scheme to engage senior business leaders and others in promoting inward investment; and
- transferring the current visitor economy functions of Leeds and Partners to Leeds City Council.
Suggesting there is scope for more collaboration across the region on tourism, the report also recommends exploring the possibility of commissioning Welcome to Yorkshire to deliver a city region approach to the visitor economy.
Councillor Wakefield added:
“Leeds is a vibrant and welcoming city and we know we’ve got a great offer for leisure and business tourists alike. We will build on the good progress made by Leeds and Partners in increasing the value of the visitor economy by making sure that Visit Leeds continues to have the independence it needs to operate flexibly in a competitive market. It is also right that we should look at whether by working with our neighbour councils we can do more on tourism that increases the attractiveness of our offer.”
Leeds City Region has transformed in recent years, seeing an acceleration of economic growth as recovery from the recession continues and benefitting from greater collaboration with strengthened governance through the formation of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in 2014.
Building on the success of the 2012 City Deal which saw the Government transfer a range of powers giving Leeds and partner local authorities greater control over spending and decision making, the region agreed an historic £1bn local growth deal with Government in July 2014 which is set to create thousands of jobs and promote further economic growth.
The Leeds City Region strategic economic plan which is backed by Government is set to deliver an additional £5.2bn in economic output and 62,000 extra jobs by 2021 and the region is widely tipped as next in line for further devolution of powers.
Andy Clarke, chair of Leeds and Partners, said:
“The board and chief executive of Leeds and Partners whole heartedly support this move to a regional agenda, which will realise the significant opportunities that closer alignment will bring for the Leeds City Region economy.
“In the last three years Leeds and Partners has transformed the way the city and wider region attract inward investment. It is testament to the achievements and talent of the team that the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and LEP recognise the successes of Leeds and Partners and intend to build on this approach as part of the new governance structure. I look forward to continuing to play an active role in supporting this agenda moving forward.”
Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said:
“The Leeds City Region is the largest economy outside of London and we have a huge opportunity to compete on a global scale for business, investment and jobs. To do that successfully we need to marshal and align all our resources so we present a consistent, attractive and compelling proposition to potential investors and play to our strengths. We can achieve more and better together so bringing the inward investment expertise of Leeds and Partners into the LEP makes good business sense at a time when resources are tight and competition is fierce.”
Councillor Peter Box, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority said:
“The Combined Authority has ambitious, long-term plans for growing our local economy and, if these proposals are agreed, I look forward to welcoming the influx of experienced and capable people from Leeds and Partners.
“They will bring additional capabilities to enhance the already strong team working across the Combined Authority and the LEP, helping us better achieve our aims of growing the West Yorkshire and City Region economy and creating more and better jobs.”
If the proposal goes ahead relevant staff will be transferred to the West Yorkshire Combined Authority or Leeds City Council under TUPE.
Notes to editors:
Leeds and Partners is a company wholly owned jointly by Leeds City Council and the Leeds York and West Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.
Leeds and Partners is commissioned by Leeds City Council to promote inward investment to Leeds and to increase the value of the visitor economy to Leeds.
Current funding from Leeds City Council to Leeds and Partners is in the region of £2m a year, made up of a combination of cash and seconded staff.
Leeds and Partners are currently commissioned by Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership to promote inward investment.
The review was undertaken in October and November 2014.
The review group was supported by an advisory group comprising Tom Riordan, (chief executive, Leeds City Council); Adrian Lythgo (head of paid service, West Yorkshire Combined Authority); Joanne Roney (chief executive, Wakefield Council); and Kersten England (chief executive, City of York Council).
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