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8 December 2010

Leeds New Plan to Sell City

A SINGLE public-private partnership could take responsibility for marketing Leeds as a business and tourism destination.

Leeds City Council has unveiled plans for Financial Leeds, Marketing Leeds and Conference Leeds as well as the council's Visit Leeds and Locate in Leeds teams to become one organisation.

The move comes as the council faces major budget cutbacks and after Financial Leeds and Marketing Leeds have seen their funding from regional development agency Yorkshire Forward reduced.

A report to be considered by senior councillors next week acknowledges the city has previously "not been sufficiently strategic in its overall thinking and ambition for what it is trying to achieve" and calls for a "compelling vision for how the city will work with and support the business sector." It also warns that the current arrangements produce duplication of effort, confusion over responsibilities and leads to competition for public funding.

Council leader Keith Wakefield said: "Leeds has a very successful and buoyant economy and despite the recent recession, Leeds has shown resilience – and that’s down, in part, to the various organisations which have worked hard to raise the city’s profile and attract investment. However, despite that, we know that with the current reductions in public spending, we need to do even more with our efforts on marketing, tourism and inward investment functions to attract further investment in the city. Bringing them together as one will go a long way to achieving this and will give a renewed focus on our refreshed ambition for Leeds to become the ‘best city in the UK’."

Discussions have already taken place between the leading figures in the organisations about the idea and more detailed plans are expected to be put forward in the Spring.

Gary Lumby, president of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, said: “We believe the proposals create a Leeds solution that will stand the test of time and truly engage the business sector in driving forward a compelling agenda for the overall economic benefit of the city.”

The report suggests that Marketing Leeds could evolve into the "new delivery vehicle" that will provide the unified service under a new board and executive team while Financial Leeds would close.

Marketing Leeds chairman Nigel McClea said: “The whole Marketing Leeds board and executive team are fully supportive of the proposals as they represent the ‘joined-up thinking’ that our private sector champions and city partners have long advocated and we are delighted that council chiefs are taking such a far sighted approach.”

Financial Leeds chairman Joanne Lake said: "I am very proud of what Financial Leeds has been able to achieve over recent years and the professional and business services sector continues to be the sector projecting greatest growth in the future. The board of Financial Leeds is very supportive of these proposals and we look forward to being involved in the new arrangements.”

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