Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Written Evidence

Memorandum by Leeds City Region (RG 68)

  The following narrative forms part of the Leeds City Region Business Case to the Rt. Hon David Miliband MP.

    "Manchester and Leeds are becoming successful city region economies, challenging other major European Cities for investment and jobs and leading the growth of the North of England…Absolute levels of economic output are highest in the Manchester and Leeds City Regions . . ."

    Moving Forward: The Northern Way, First Growth Strategy Report, September 2004

  The Leeds city region with its proven economic growth record and its concentration of key assets already plays a significant role in the economy of the wider region and within the context of the Northern Way Growth Strategy. The city region accounts for 20% of the population; 21% of the business stock and 21% of the GVA of the three northern regions that make up the Northern Way. Over the next 10 years the Leeds city region is projected to create 65,300 net additional jobs, representing 93% of the jobs projected for Yorkshire and Humber Region as a whole. The sheer size of the city region economy means that boosting its dynamism will lead to economic impact locally, regionally and nationally.

  The city region is recognised, along with Manchester city region, as playing a key role within the Northern Way Growth Strategy. If the Leeds city region fails to achieve its full potential, there is little prospect of achieving local, regional or national job and wealth creation targets, and just as crucially there is no serious and sustainable counter balance in England to London and the South East.

  The Leeds City Region covers; Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield and York. The extent of the city region was defined following extensive research carried out over the last five years (CURDS 1999; Llewelyn Davies, Steer Davies Gleave, Jones Lang LaSalle and the University of Leeds 2002; ODPM and Northern Way Secretariat 2004; Local Futures 2004). The functional Leeds city region therefore consists of 10 local authority districts and cuts across three existing sub regions.


  Early recognition of the importance of city region collaboration led to a Leeds City Region Economic Summit being held in November 2004. This event brought together around 200 stakeholders to discuss the economic growth potential of the city region.

  The City Region Leaders, Chief Executives and Yorkshire Forward (the Regional Development Agency) met separately during the Summit and made a commitment to work together.

  Significant progress has been made in city region collaboration since the Summit:

    —  a Concordat has been developed which has guided partnership working to date;

    —  a first iteration of the City Region Development Programme (CRDP) has been prepared and submitted to the Northern Way Secretariat;

    —  themed groups have been established to lead on different aspects of the CRDP; and

    —  work is underway to develop fully evidenced proposals for a second reiteration of the CRDP which will be submitted to influence the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.

  The current partnership includes the 10 local authorities that make up the city region, plus North Yorkshire County Council by virtue of their strategic role in transport planning and economic development.

  As the complexity of the work has increased and the city region has moved from analysis and strategy development towards project delivery, a number of barriers to implementation have become apparent.

  Current arrangements are not able, at least consistently to prioritise the needs of the city region. The current arrangements for sub regional analysis and delivery also constrain the ability for developing interventions that work within existing local labour and other markets to spread prosperity more evenly across the city region.

  Additionally, there is currently no mechanism for the city region to engage and input into Regional Funding Allocations—a potential flaw given the city region provides the functionally coherent unit for analysis and developing interventions for the key drivers of economic growth and that Regional Funding Allocations are concerned with "joining up" transport, economic development and housing funding.


  The City Region Leaders met in Huddersfield on 16 December 2005 to discuss how they could better work together. They recognised the progress that had been made in the last twelve months, particularly in developing a greater understanding of the complexity of the city region economy and the types of issues that need to be addressed to improve economic performance. However, they acknowledged that it is now an appropriate time to consider the next steps in developing collaboration.

  Leaders recognised that there exist a number of difficulties with current economic working arrangements, which are likely to constrain the city region's ability to operate as a single economic entity and hence inhibit delivery of the CRDP and ultimately the achievement of a step change in economic performance.

  To tackle such barriers, Leaders committed to stepping up their collaboration and agreed to hold bi-monthly meetings to provide political leadership, aimed at promoting the enhanced economic competitiveness of the city region.

  Leaders agreed to move towards arrangements aimed at promoting greater strategic alignment of strategy and delivery, specifically:

    —  To align activity directed at the economic competitiveness agenda which will necessitate a review of a range of organisations and their associated budgets. An early priority will be a discussion focusing on the potential for greater alignment of Yorkshire Forwards Investment Planning Boundaries; Passenger Transport Executive Boundaries (recognising the WYPTE can broadly work across the Leeds City Region within its existing powers); Learning and Skills Council and Housing Strategies.

    —  A formalisation and widening of the existing voluntary arrangements.

    —  Priority will be given to engaging more widely with stakeholders (as acknowledged in the existing Concordat) and consideration will be given to the creation of a city region wide Local Strategic Partnership.

  At this point the ambition of the local authority partners is to address and seek to resolve issues arising from the current dislocation between various funding silos; and to press for rationalisation of the number of institutions and partnerships working on the economic competitiveness agenda.

  Leader of Kirklees Council, Councillor Kath Pinnock, chaired the meeting and said:

    "I hope the agreed approach will provide greater policy and fiscal focus on the city region as well as provide for greater democratic accountability and political leadership over the economic agenda".


    —  Leaders request that decisions taken by relevant Departments of Government, which have an impact on the economy, should be calculated to promote the competitiveness of functioning city regions.

    —  Leaders request that Government support the propositions contained within our CRDP through the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review and recognise the economic potential of the Leeds city region.

    —  Leaders request that Government give close consideration to new arrangements for managing the local transport system at a city region level.

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