Yorkshire business people have been urged to stop focusing on the north-south divide and prepare for the “massive” economic benefits of the new high speed rail link with London.
Tom Riordan, the chief executive of Leeds City Council, made the comments at an event which highlighted the ways in which major UK cities could attract investment by working with each other.
Mr Riordan shared the spotlight at the MIPIM international property conference in Cannes in the French Riviera with senior figures from Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester city councils. Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron said the new high-speed rail line (HS2)– which will cut journey times from Leeds and Sheffield to London by around an hour when it is completed in 2032 – will provide a “big boost for northern cities”, and is essential if Britain is to compete on the global stage.
Mr Riordan described how partnerships between the regions could lead to significant infrastructure investment, such as high speed rail, which
would boost the economy by £65bn. Mr Riordan said the relationship between cities had changed, with city partnerships replacing the outdated debate around the north-south divide.
“The opportunity of being involved in a global network is massive,” Mr Riordan said.
“We’ve got to stop obsessing about London and the South East.
“London is the driver of the UK economy – but we in Yorkshire keep the lights on in London through assets like Drax Power station (which is based near Selby).
“All cities benefit by their proximity to London, shortening that distance will benefit the UK economy as a whole.”
Speaking at an event hosted by Leeds City Region at MIPIM - which was called “Working Together: Regional Cities and the Capital” - Sir Edward Lister, the deputy mayor of London, outlined how partnerships can boost investment.
Sir Edward said he believed regional cities benefited from the success of London and that competition between locations did not benefit economies.
“What’s good for London is generally going to be good for Leeds and vice-versa,” he said. “All of us have got the
same needs. We’re all working with the same challenges around skills, unemployment and regeneration and therefore it’s all about working together.
“The two cities are very similar. London is the national financial centre – but those firms all have major offices in
Leeds and that makes us very integrated. And it is about providing those links to the rest of the world.”
MIPIM, which closes today, has attracted around 4,100 global investors.