Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has urged businesses in Leeds to turn Yorkshire’s Olympic triumphs into commercial successes.
Facing questions from the city’s business leaders, Mr Clegg defended the Coalition’s economic record, backed calls for more decisions to be taken in Yorkshire rather than London and made the case for Britain’s future in Europe.
He was speaking during a visit to open the new offices of Yorkshire Post Newspapers in Whitehall Road.
On the day the route the Tour de France will take through Yorkshire next year was announced, he pointed to the success of Yorkshire athletes, including gold medallist Leeds boxer Nicola Adams, in the Olympics as having given the county unprecedented exposure.
Mr Clegg said: “I genuinely think that the Yorkshire triumph in the sporting arena in the summer has probably done as much as anything to put Yorkshire as a place not just on the British Map but on the international map.
“I think Yorkshire has got a great and strong identity in the public imagination and I think it’s got a lot stronger in the last year and there are great commercial opportunities in that.”
The Deputy Prime Minister also announced the latest round of the Government’s Regional Growth Fund which will see £350m made available to support companies to create jobs.
He defended the Fund against complaints that Yorkshire has not benefitted as much as other areas, stressing that more than one in ten of awards made have gone to organisations in the region.
Mr Clegg also insisted there was more consensus between the major political parties on public spending and cuts than suggested by debates in Westminster.
He called on Labour to accept the Coalition’s overall position on spending cuts and instead have a debate at the next election on where the axe should fall.
During his visit Mr Clegg joked that the Yorkshire Evening Post’s distinctive former home in Wellington Street was a “well renowned building, I think for all the wrong reasons.”